I'm a biologist with interests in genetics, conservation, ecology, invasive species, and wildlife management.
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At first they were just shadows, dark impressions glimpsed through the mist. Is that really…? Could it be…? As we moved a little closer one of them turned to the east, to face the rising sun. His profile was unmistakable, the curved horns and humped shoulders proclaiming “bison”!
And not just any bison, but free-ranging European bison, grazing in the meadows on the edge of the largest remnant of primeval forest in Europe. Without a doubt, this encounter during my visit to Poland in July was the stand-out wildlife experience of my year. With an emphasis on WILD. I suspect that experience is also what prompted this post, on the topic of rewilding.
Rewilding. It’s an evocative word. It’s also a word that seems to turn up quite regularly in my news feeds at the moment. Every so often, friends ask me what I think about rewilding. To answer them I wanted to gain a better understanding of some of the issues surrounding rewilding, so I thought I’d do a little reading, then write a quick blog post on the topic.
Well, that was a mistake! I’ve just emerged from one of those internet black holes, following one link after another, browsing paper after news article after blog, reading about some wonderful conservation projects, outlandish ideas (some good, some… less good) and first person perspectives from all sides of the debate.
So what have I learned?
Well… it’s complicated.
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So, I just made a discovery – November 7th 2015 is (or was) the first ever World Numbat Day! I had another post planned for this weekend, coincidentally about a different group of marsupials, but how could I go past this opportunity to write about numbats? I might be a little late to the festivities, but I don’t think the good folks atProject Numbat will mind too much.
In this post I’m not going to share any tales of numbats glimpsed crossing the road in front of my car, or whilst I was hiking in the Australian bush, or even any of my own numbat photographs. There’s a simple reason for this. I’ve never actually seen a numbat. Yes, I know, my credibility is ruined! But wait… before you judge this alleged mammalogist too harshly… the sad truth is that the entire global population of wild numbats alive today would likely fit in my living room. I’m not saying they’d be comfortable stacked up like that, but with fewer than 1000 individuals left it’s not a big stretch of the imagination. The species is listed by the IUCN as endangered.