berks show

Some amazing animals featured at the Royal Berkshire Show last weekend. I set off on a misty morning to volunteer with the Pang Kennet and Lambourn Valleys Countryside Project. The show had a record turnout and we were so busy that I hardly had time to see the other conservation projects.

I managed to get a quick look at an astoundingly tame monitor lizard, and had the honour of being permitted to go into an enclosure with Wild Boar. These beautiful and friendly beasts were from Bucklebury Farm Park. (I’ve met the propietor Rupert before, when I went to survey for Barn Owl habitat.)

Teams at the many educational stands did a brilliant job of bringing people closer to the different creatures and promoting understanding. The star educators had to be the John Simonds Trust, complete with hand mills to make flour, crayfish in a glass tank, and a cut-out cow for children to try their hand at milking!

The weather was great and we had lots and lots of people there pond-dipping and asking about the owl. The pond was never without the swish of a net! The gorgeous Barn Owl makes people stop, and so that gives us the chance to engage and tell people about the local Barn Owl conservation work and the crucial role of farmers, but I’d much rather show the visitors real owls in the wild.

yawning wolf

Captive animals are not what I like to see, especially those caged wolves that appear at the Berkshire Show each year. To understand wildlife, it should be out there and doing its thing. I guess that’s just not possible, and not everyone’s cup of tea. And how can anyone in the UK connect to the cause of European Wolf conservation when we exterminated it from British lands hundreds of years ago? They do have a role.

copyright © 2008 Jason P Ball

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