Thursday, 8 February 2018

Hogs in decline

I expect most people have seen the news that the Hedgehog population in the UK has fallen by by 50% since the year 2000. Like so many statistics that bring us bad news, it actually masks a far worse situation. Between the year 1972 and 2000 the population had already halved. This means that since Pam and I watched a family of Hedgehogs on our lawn in Crayford the population had reduced to a quarter. Nearly always number and changes in species populations are related to time not very distantly past. I am sure that this means the generation now growing up, and hopefully more conscious of the problems that the word wildlife has, are actually unaware as to how fast most other species are declining. I remember when I was not much older than my birding Grandsons are now, the fantastic number of migrants that could be seen on the east coast after a fall. A look at the ringing totals of most observatories will show that these days have gone, and what is considered the norm would have been very disappointing in 1961.
This was reported in 2014 "The number of wild animals on Earth has halved in the past 40 years, according to a new analysis. Creatures across land, rivers and the seas are being decimated as humans kill them for food in unsustainable numbers, while polluting or destroying their habitats, the research by scientists at WWF and the Zoological Society of London found."
A few species are prospering, but a world full of feral cats, feral Pigeons, Wood Pigeons, domesticated animals raised for food, and those species that our gun toting Country "sportsman" like to kill, is not a very appealing world. While some of the iconic species are making the headlines all the time, it is important we realise that the prospect of the biggest mass extinction ever is not only possible, but probably inevitable unless human behaviour is modified drastically in the very near future.
The pictures were 
taken in 2005, we haven't had a record of one in the garden for the last two years.


Derek Faulkner said...

I can't see how anything that affects species such as hedgehogs can be halted. Habitat is disappearing at an enormous rate in the countryside now and will continue to do so, with the government insisting that we need to build 300,000 new houses a year! How much prime hedgehog habitat is that going to swallow up. As usual, you had a swipe at the game bird shooting fraternity but just step back for a moment and think about the amount of good hedgehog habitat that is still preserved by game shooting interests. Big new housing estate on green fields or countryside for game shooting, I'm pretty sure hedgehogs would prefer the latter.

Tony Morris said...

Derek, yes habitat is created but the bio-mass of introduced and bred game species in the environment is now equal or more than all the natural species put together in our countryside. Pheasants feed their young on invertebrates and this obviously has a major affect. In addition where land such as upland moors is managed for game shooting the biodiversity is severely reduced. There is a lot of research done on the subject and as yet I haven't digested it all, but I do know that overall mans used of the planet is leading to the largest mass extinction there has been.

Derek Faulkner said...

Can't disagree with the very last line of your reply Tony.

Colin Cross said...

Increased badgers = decreased hedgepigs. Increased monoculture farming = decreased hedgepigs.

Tony, I don't know if you've ever visited a well managed shooting estate (upland or lowland), but I can assure you that biodiversity is much improved where there is an alternative use other than agriculture. Very few reared pheasants (or partridges) actually breed so the impact on invertebrates is likely to be negligable. Many shooting estates/shooting farmers now leave buffer strips which are unsprayed and unfertilized. The difference between these and open arable fields is considerable from a wildlife perspective.