Posts by Charlotte Rixon

Help for Santa’s helpers? The plight of reindeer in Britain

Not so long ago, the only contact children in Britain had with reindeer was finding a nibbled carrot on the fireplace beside Santa’s half eaten mince pie on Christmas morning. Nowadays, they can see Rudolf in the flesh at one of numerous festive events taking place in town centres around the country and even feed … Continued

Back to the wild: Inside the RSPCA’s wildlife rehabilitation programme

Each year some 16,000 injured, sick or orphaned wild animals pass through the doors of the RSPCA’s four wildlife hospitals, while hundreds of thousands more receive care at other wildlife centres throughout the UK. All kinds of creatures can find themselves in need of rescue, but according to Llewelyn Lowen, RSPCA Wildlife Scientific Officer, certain … Continued

Against all odds: The incredible story of the Amur tiger

‘Saving the tiger is a test; if we pass, we get to keep the planet.’ Those were the wise words of American writer and environmentalist Marjorie Stoneman Douglas (1890-1998) who truly understood the significance of conserving this most beautiful and powerful of species, the tiger (Panthera tigris). There is only one species of tiger but … Continued

How can we reconnect children with the natural world?

Not so very long ago, roaming through the woods, climbing trees, building dens and generally having a wild time would have been considered part and parcel of a normal, healthy childhood. But within a matter of decades, the wild child has become a critically endangered species. These days, just one in 10 children ever play in … Continued

Why do some animals exhibit homosexual behaviour?

Once dismissed as a scientific anomaly, a growing body of research suggests that homosexual behaviour is surprisingly common throughout the natural world. According to Petter Bøckman, Zoologist and Lecturer at the Natural History Museum in Oslo, ‘homosexual behaviour has been observed in over 1,500 species’ and the list includes ‘lions, wolves, deer, seagulls, elephants, monkeys, … Continued

Friends, not food—Why we need to help save UK sharks  

Thought UK waters were free from sharks? Think again. In fact, over 30 shark species can be found along the British coastline, amongst them some of the largest, fastest, rarest and oddest sharks on the planet. Sadly, over half of these magnificent species are under threat—but there are plenty of ways in which marine wildlife … Continued

Relocation and recovery: Pine martens are moving back to Wales

Once upon a time, much of Britain was covered by the wildwood. Amongst the rich diversity of trees and shrubs, arboreal species thrived, including the pine marten (martes martes), which arrived in the country after the last ice age. For more than ten thousand years, this beautiful carnivorous mammal roamed throughout the UK, where it … Continued

In or out? What the EU referendum means for nature in Britain

On Thursday 23rd June 2016 there will be a referendum to decide whether or not the UK remains a member of the European Union (EU). There has been much debate in the media on the pros and cons of Britain’s potential exit or ‘Brexit’ from the EU. Most discussions have centred on issues like business, … Continued

London: The world’s first National Park City?

A couple of years ago, Daniel Raven Ellison, a geography teacher from Ealing, had an interesting thought: What if London became a National Park? In his vision, Daniel saw London as a place where people and nature were better connected, where the air was clean to breathe and the rivers safe to swim in, and … Continued

Want to work with wildlife? Here's how

So, you want to work with wildlife? Wonderful! All over the world wild animals and landscapes are in trouble and desperately need inspirational, motivated and caring people like you to stick up for them. The bad news is that competition for wildlife jobs is incredibly fierce. But don’t let that put you off, as there has … Continued

Life of the foxes surviving in suburbia

It’s a curious paradox that those of us living in urban and suburban parts of the UK often rub shoulders more closely with wildlife than country folk do. But how did these animals end up in such incongruous living conditions, how do they survive and do humans and wildlife always make good neighbours? Driven out … Continued

The dark and depressing world of British poaching

The word poaching normally conjures up images of trophy hunters stalking lions in Africa or the illegal trade in elephant ivory and tiger skins. But what many people don’t realise is that poaching—the illegal shooting, trapping or capturing of wild or semi-wild animals—also takes place on British soil. Wildlife crime In the UK, poaching is … Continued

Rewilding Britain

Rewilding Britain, a new charity, spearheaded by environmentalist George Monbiot, launched in 2015—its objective to ‘make Britain a wilder place’. We take a look what rewilding could mean for Britain’s uplands and ask if it presents an impossibly romantic vision or a genuine opportunity for people to reconnect with nature, for the benefit of both. … Continued

Problem parakeets: The birds taking over London's skies 

Every evening, in almost every major park in London, ring-necked or rose-ringed parakeets (Psittacula krameri) can be seen (and heard) roosting in their hundreds and thousands. But how have these tropical interlopers managed to adapt so well to our mild climate and what threat do they pose to our beloved native birds? We asked three … Continued

Meet the man who invented parahawking and who's still fighting for Nepal's vultures—15 years later

In Nepal in 2001, Scott Mason invented parahawking—an internationally acclaimed concept that combines falconry with paragliding to offer a unique adventure with an important conservation message. In 2005 he made the award-winning film, Flight for Survival, to draw attention to the plight of Asia’s vultures—seriously endangered birds that are vital to the ecosystem but have … Continued

Scientists struggle to explain the mystery of mass starling drownings

Wild birds rarely die from drowning, and when they do, it’s usually an isolated incident. Yet, over the years, there have been several mysterious accounts of groups of common starlings (Sturnus vulgaris) found floating in garden ponds in apparent mass drownings. Researchers from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) set out to shed some light … Continued

Island toad population cleared of killer amphibian fungus

A deadly fungus that has been decimating amphibians worldwide for decades has been eradicated from an island population of wild toads, thanks to a breakthrough study. Chytridiomycosis—the infection caused by the chytrid fungus—is considered by the IUCN to be the worst disease to affect vertebrates in recorded history, in terms of the number of species … Continued

A 5,000-year-old tree in Scotland is changing sex

Something strange is happening to Britain’s oldest tree: it appears to be changing sex. Reputed to be 5,000 years old, the Fortingall Yew in Perthshire, Scotland, has awed visitors for centuries due to its immense age. Now, the ancient tree, which could be the oldest in the UK, is causing more wonder by apparently undergoing … Continued

Time to put the wildness back into childhood

Only 40 years ago, children were free to roam about the countryside. Yet over a quarter of today’s kids have never played outside by themselves beyond their garden gate, according to a new YouGov poll for the UK charity, The Wildlife Trusts. Modern lifestyles, stranger danger fears and declining wildlife habitats mean that youngsters are … Continued

How do you stop an animal from eating a poisonous toad? By feeding it sausages!

Conservationists in Australia are serving up nauseating sausages to a population of northern quolls, in a novel attempt to educate the endangered marsupials about the perils of eating cane toads. Northern quolls (Dasyurus hallucatus) are small, spotted, carnivorous marsupials native to Australia, which are in danger of being wiped out due, amongst other factors, to … Continued

A deadly new type of neuro-pesticide is decimating bee colonies, by damaging the queens

New and sophisticated pesticides are jeopardising the survival of honeybee colonies across the world by seriously damaging the health of their queens, a groundbreaking new study confirms. Honeybees have been in decline for decades; the Nature Conservancy estimates that their populations have fallen from four million worldwide in the 1970s to just 2.5 million today. … Continued

The mysterious secret of ‘crow funerals’ finally revealed

New research has shed light on the mystery of ‘crow funerals’ in which crows gather in large numbers to seemingly mourn their dead; it appears that the birds are learning about danger from the fate of their less fortunate brethren. Crows are one of just a handful of species, along with African elephants, bottlenose dolphins … Continued

Incredibly rare deepwater animal found in Scotland

Marine biologists have found a rare deepwater shark off the coast of Scotland, which they have nicknamed a ‘sofa shark’ due to its ‘saggy, chilled out’ appearance. Dr Francis Neat and his team from Marine Scotland were undertaking a routine fish population survey around the remote islands of Barra and St Kilda when the bizarre … Continued

What happens when a swan meets a weasel?

A dramatic encounter between a young weasel and a curious swan has been captured on camera by an amateur photographer at a nature reserve in Scotland. RSPB volunteer Billy Blair snapped the unlikely duo as they came face-to-face in front of a crowd of astounded onlookers at the wildlife charity’s Lochwinnoch reserve in Scotland’s west … Continued

First ever sighting of a glowing sea turtle

Biofluorescence—the ability to emit luminescent neon colours—has been observed in a sea turtle for the first time. Marine biologist David Gruber and his team from City University of New York encountered the Glowing Hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata) while diving under a full moon one night off the coast of the Solomon Islands in the … Continued

Animal lovers unite for World Animal Day

Animal advocates in around 100 countries are taking part in over 1,000 events today in celebration of World Animal Day (WAD)—the global initiative to make the world a better place for animals. WAD was founded in 1931 by a group of ecologists in Florence, Italy, and has since grown into an internationally recognised movement, coordinated … Continued