After my hurried introduction on my first day, it was much the same the following day although my duties were completely different. As pretty much everyone has managed to tell me so far I managed to time my arrival on the busiest weekend of the year as today was their open day (phote below). This brings in thousands of people and it is the centre’s main fund raising event so of course this means a lot of stress and people running around clutching pile’s of brick and brack. I have worked on stalls in the past and also been working in retail since I was 14 so I did feel more in my comfort zone when it came to dealing with the public. Again I did feel slightly that I was thrown into the deep end though when I was told that I would be managing the lucky dip alone. This wasn’t just any lucky dip either as it involved a tent that was filled with sawdust that the children had to root around in to find the prizes. This of course meant that I was in there as often as the children to bury new prizes so did end the day covered in sawdust! It was worth it at the end of the day though as I personally made £275 (overall amount was over £11,000) and many of the families said that they would come back again. The children in particular were interested not just in the lucky dip but learning about the animals. One little girl was very passionate about hedgehogs and was devastated when we told her that we only had one in the hospital that wasn’t open to the public. However, we managed to get her in to see it in the end and I’m sure it was worth the minimal disturbance to fuel an inspiration that may lead to a potential career in conservation, perhaps even focused on hedgehogs which of course needing as much help as they can get as they are critically endangered.
Another charity there was ‘Leage Against Cruel Sports’ which involved phasing out activities that harmed wildlife. One of the ways in which they do this is by creating petitions, examples being one to reinforce the hunting law which has lately been under debate and one preventing the badger cull which is of course very topical at the moment. As a passionate animal lover I find it difficult to consider culling as ever a good option although I know that in conservation it does occur, often to save more vulnerable species. However, in the case of the badger cull, it is to preserve the spread of TB to cattle so the main motivation for the cull is economical reasons rather than environmental ones. I am against this cull due to this reason, plus the fact that after 9 years of scientific research, it was concluded that “no practicable method of badger culling can reduce the incidence of cattle TB to any meaningful extent” (ISG report).
Despite this evidence, this cull is still being discussed and whilst it is in a state of flux, it was been reported that many farmers are taking matters into their own hands and killing any badgers on their land, even though they are still a protected species. I think the most effective way of combating this is by educating these farmers on the real risk that these badgers pose and reinforcing the fact that this action is still against the law and they therefore will face repercussions.
This is just another example of the constant battle between farmers and conservationists. However, in more recent years these areas are becoming more integrated (e.g. through the environmental stewardship scheme that rewards farmers financially for managing their land in an environmentally friendly way) so hopefully a stage will be reached where both farmers and wildlife can live in harmony.