Autumn Blog 2017Frustrated by lack of funds, which has been shackling a bag full of volunteer enthusiasm, Red Squirrel South West organised a fund-raising dinner in July for over 100 guests, harnessing the skills of chef Tim Maddems. Tim is a private chef, writer, cookery teacher and presenter living in Devon. He previously led the team at River Cottage, Axminster, where he regularly appeared alongside Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall on both the River Cottage series on Channel 4 and the Fish Fight campaign.
He designed a unique menu for the evening, which included ‘Escot grey flightless partridge’, tomatoes, herbs, pasta, & old Winchester cheese – grey squirrel, of course!
Work can now begin to start connecting Devon, building a picture of grey culling, grey hotspots, corridors and voids - at the same time building an ever-growing database of support. With funds raised we are now able to recruit someone on a part time basis with report and press writing, researching, habitat and species mapping, data collection and sampling, data entry and analysis skills, and use of statistical software. If you know anyone who might be suitable please ask them to get in touch.
The aim of all this? To see red squirrels back on the South West peninsular as a sustainable reintroduction.
Pie in the sky? Well not necessarily. The Cornish group have been working hard to prepare the way for a release near Land’s End and it looks as though this could be as soon as next year, 2018. To succeed there has to be coordinated effort across the region to prevent the fatal squirrel pox from killing them off before they establish. Grey squirrels carry, but are immune to, the virus. In the 21st century the approach must be scientific, technological and sensitive. Ultimately native biodiversity must be the winner.
How can you care if you don’t know? Olivia Kennaway has spent the last two years working on a recently launched education pack. Curriculum based aimed at key stage 2 primary school children, titled ‘The Red Squirrel Education Pack’, challenging the children to answer the question; “Do red squirrels need our help?” www.redsquirreleducation.com Encouragingly even HRH Prince Charles has responded positively to letters sent to him by pupils from a school in East Devon after an inspiring visit to the walk-through enclosure at nearby Escot Park.
If you think RSSW is too small a charity to be effective, you have never been to bed with a mosquito!