Many of us are keen wildlife watchers, supporters and all round champions. You only have to look at the success of the recent Blue Planet II series and TV programmes such as Springwatch, Natural World and Countryfile to see just how much the British public are interested in the world around them.
Sadly, our native wildlife can often suffer from contact with roads, waterways, our pets and us, and each year thousands of animals and birds need rescuing and veterinary attention. Across the UK there are a large number of wildlife charities that do a sterling job in caring for our injured wildlife. The amount of time and dedication this work takes shouldn’t be under estimated, and it’s probably fair to say that without it, our wildlife populations would be in a more perilous state.
Way back in 1984, Pauline and Derek Kidner opened their New Road Farm in Somerset as a visitor attraction as a way of diversifying their farm income. Pauline soon developed a great love and interest in wildlife, and as her knowledge grew, so did her reputation for caring for wildlife.
Fast forward to today, and from small beginnings Secret World Wildlife Rescue has become a nationally recognised wildlife rescue centre, operating 365 days a year, supported by over 300 dedicated volunteers and caring for over 5,000 sick, injured and orphaned animals annually.
As you may expect, spring is one of the charity’s busiest times of the year. Orphans are often the biggest challenge with hundreds of young owls, foxes, badgers, swans, fawns and garden birds needing care and attention. Last year, of the 5,058 animals admitted by the charity, around 60% – that’s around 3034 animals and birds – arrived between April and July. None of this work could be done without the practical support of volunteers and the financial support of donors – however small that donation may be; a can of pet food can go a long way to keeping a baby hedgehog alive.
Although based in Somerset, the charity has become a referral service for other nationwide organisations and regularly takes cases from all across the UK for many Wildlife Trusts and the RSPCA. Their sponsors include some of the most well known names in natural history broadcasting and the arts and include Chris Packham, Michaela Strachan, Simon King OBE, Jilly Cooper OBE, Anthony Head and Valerie Singleton OBE. The charity’s founder Pauline Kidner says:
“Our charity has always operated purely from donations and our supporters are incredibly generous, helping us to meet the ever-increasing costs of rescuing and caring for wildlife casualties so they can be released back into the wild. Without committed donations, we couldn’t save the thousands of animals each year. We are endeavouring to remain true to our mission to help our wonderful wildlife thrive and love to share the inspiring work our team achieves to give these animals a second chance.”
So as spring turns into summer, remember the selfless work of our often un-sung wildlife heroes, whose dedication and commitment is vital to keeping our wildlife populations sustainable.
If you’d like to find out more about Secret World Wildlife Rescue, to donate or become a volunteer, please visit: www.secretworld.org
There are lots of small, independent wildlife charities across the UK. To find one near to you, check your local press or ask at your local veterinary surgery. You can also visit the Wildlife Trust website for details of groups across the UK: www.wildlifetrusts.org.