REINTRODUCTION OF INDIGENOUS ANIMALS
There are a number of conservationist groups involved in reintroducing indigenous animals back into the UK. Most of these British animals have been driven into extinction by mankind. The Foundation for Endangered Species welcomes and supports the reintroduction of indigenous species into the UK countryside. Avian reintroduction programmes include the Great Bustard, the Red Kite, the White Tailed or Sea Eagle, and the Crane: mammals include the Wild Boar and the Beaver. FES also welcomes back the Pool Frog, an amphibian just as valid a member of our biodiversity as the bigger species.
FES has taken on the responsibility to support the reintroduction of Britain's indigenous wildlife. This responsibility emanates from the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, a declaration which the British government signed. But to have all of Britain's indigenous animals living in the wild once more, the British public must want to live inside nature, rather than living away from it. Therefore FES helps raise awareness of these reintroduction programmes, and helps keep them in the public agenda. Only when we successfully change our mind sets will we be able to regain our complete and rightful natural heritage.
The Great Bustard
The Great Bustard project has had a difficult start but ihas found success by monitoring established breeding pairs. Hopefully the birds will succeed in continuing to raise their families for many years to come. FES will continue to monitor the species' progress until it can establish a Minimum Viable Population that will secure its long term survival. FES also supports developing other Great Bustard colonies in different parts of the UK.
The Red Kite's reintroduction project has been a spectacular success over many parts of the country. FES has monitored the Kite in England, Scotland and Wales. In particular, FES has helped monitor the Chilterns population. We have seen as many as 34 Birds in the sky at a time and have witnessed their range steadily increasing over the years. Their territories range from Oxford to North West London. FES natural history walks have been into the Red Kite heartland where Andy Mydellton has taken a number of photographs of them. FES volunteers have also monitored nest-cams near the Aston Rowant Nature Reserve.
Despite these reintroduction successes some Kites throughout the UK have been deliberately and unlawfully poisoned and shot, usually by unscrupulous gamekeepers. These are usually salaried people employed to persecute all types of birds of prey. This persecution happens because birds of prey sometimes feed on smaller birds and can be seen as competition by estate owners for their shooting activities. FES is a member of PAW, and opposes such persecution and other illegal activities that continue to occur privately and out of sight on large estates.
The White Tailed or Sea Eagle
The White Tailed or Sea Eagle was first reintroduced to Scotland over 30 years ago. However this programme has not been successful in allowing them to recolonise all of its former ranges. Therefore FES supports the recent reintroductions and redevelopment of Scotland's East Coast population of eagles. Secondly, FES also campaigns for an English colony to be re-established in East Anglia. This is a feasible policy, as FES has studied parallel programmes elsewhere that have been successful.
The Great Crane
The Great Crane reintroduction is another success for British ornithology as the bird has been extinct as a continuous breeding bird for three centuries or so. By using birds from Germany, it should be just a few years before the UK has a successful colony of breeding Cranes. This three foot high wetland bird is being established in the Somerset Levels for the first time in over four centuries. Moreover, as wetlands may increase, especially in East Anglia, FES are hopeful for even more long term successes throughout Endland.
The Wild Boar
Unlike the deliberate reintroductions of birds, the Wild Boar has reintroduced itself because of escapees from pig farms. There are now a number of small colonies in England. This is a small miracle, as the Boar has been extinct in the UK for over 300 years, having been continually overhunted by mankind.
The Wild Boar has been a partial success for FES as we have continually fought for its right to be accepted as a wild animal in the UK countryside. In 2008 the government initially gave its agreement the Boar could be hunted in the appropriate season in a legally acceptable manner. The decision of allowing limited hunting indicated that the Boar should not be exterminated and gave the impression of the government's tacit acceptance of the Wild Boar.
It was at this time that Andy Mydellton proposed that the Boar should be given full protection (i.e. that there should not be any hunting allowed). Unfortunately, this proposal was not taken up, allowing FES only a partial victory of implicit and temporary acceptance. However FES still believed that the Boar needed greater protection until their small and scattered colonies had built up Minimum Viable Populations (MVP).
Sadly, FES fears were realized, because in 2010 the government declared that the Boar is NOT an indigenous species. This was quite an incredible turn around! Perhaps this is the 'back door policy' of extermination. Indeed, if this is the government's private agenda, it could be a similar mentality to that of the General Licence given to the parakeets (see Feral Species). FES has not altered its thinking and still demands firm guarantees that the Boar should be positively helped to increase its numbers until after that critical position of MVPs are reached. Furthermore FES believes that Boar benefits the countryside as they prepare the ground for natural forest regeneration.
The Beaver has just been reintroduced into the UK after an absence of over 300 years. A few years ago Andy Mydellton wrote to Louis MacDonald of the Scottish parliament to support the Beaver Reintroduction project at Knapdale. This was sadly rejected, for what FES believes was for lame excuses on behalf of the land owning self interests. But shortly afterwards, the Scottish Parliament and government changed, and the project was once more proposed to the new Scottish parliament. So Andy Mydellton wrote again in support of the plans to Richard Lochheart, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment. This time the five year plan was given the go ahead; since then some beavers have been brought in from Norway and released. FES also supports the reintroduction of the Beaver into England after looking at other successful reintroduction plans throughout Europe.
The Pool Frog
Like the larger, more exciting animals, the relatively unknown Pool Frog has also been reintroduced into the UK countryside. Using animals from Sweden, the Pool Frog was released into East Anglia where it can be seen for the first time since the 1990s. One of the fears of this plan is introducing the deadly chytridiomycosis fungal disease that is sweeping across the planet. This awful disease and Climate Change has already pushed many species of amphibians into extinction. Whilst chytridiomycosis is already in the UK, and has caused many deaths, it has not yet affected the Pool Frog or its neighbours.
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