Thursday, August 25, 2011

Scottish Highlands: Indigenous Wild Cat

The elusive Highland Tiger, or Scottish Wildcat, is captured on camera in Cairngorms National Park, Scotland.

Nature photographer Peter Cairns, from Kingussie, has been documenting the decline of the Highland Tiger.

Unfortunately, he predicts that unless more people are made aware of this Scottish national icon, its future is decidedly uncertain.

"I think part of the problem is the fact that not many people realise the animal exists; its very rare and elusive," explained Peter, 48. "It's hard for people to relate and care for something that they dont know exists."

Picture: Peter Cairns / Barcroft Media

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Scottish ospreys begin perilous journey

A young, female Scottish osprey, which is being tracked by satellite, has embarked on a celebration zig-zag-tour of the remainder of the mainland UK and a flypast of a number of RSPB nature reserves before heading for Africa for the winter.

Last Wednesday morning (17 August) the three-month old bird, christened 'Tore', was still at its parents' nest at the RSPB Loch Garten reserve, in the Highlands of Scotland.

By Thursday afternoon, the bird completed a flypast of the RSPB's nature reserve at South Stack, on the Welsh island of Anglesey, after passing through Dumfries and Galloway and flying over the Isle of Man.

Perilous Journey across Wales and England
After roosting overnight in North Wales she headed across the industrial Midlands of England and rural East Anglia to the RSPB's Minsmere reserve on the Suffolk coast.

Staff at Minsmere saw an osprey with an attached aerial, proving beyond doubt that it was Tore. The latest update revealed that Tore had skirted around the worst of south-east London and the RSPB's Rainham nature reserve, en route for the British Channel coast near Portsmouth.

The journey of Bynack, Tore's brother, has also been followed using GPS satellite technology. Worryingly he headed from Scotland over the North Sea, heading towards Norway, sparking considerable alarm. However, he has since reappeared near Bruges, in Belgium.

Loch Garten, one of the best Breeding Sites of Scottish Ospreys
The Scottish Osprey's prefer to nest in the tall Scot's Pines, which are found in the more remote and mountainous regions of Scotland. The habitat is not only one of the most picturesque areas in Scotland but it is also home for many other rare creatures and threatened bird life e.g. Pine Martin, Capercaillie, Red Squirrel, Crested Tits, Red deer, Crossbills, etc.

GPS Satellite tracking
Caroline Rance, an osprey information officer at Loch Garten, in Scotland, has been following the reserve's osprey stories. She said: 'Ever since they hatched Tore and Bynack have become stars of the reserve. Visitors to the reserve and the website have been following their fortunes.

'The satellite technology is fantastic, allowing us to follow their travels in detail, but it can cause our hearts to leap into our mouths when these birds do something unexpected like taking a wrong turn.'

The Ospreys are not expected to return to Scotland from Africa until late Spring or early Summer next year (2012). Until that time, and in association with all our migratory birds, they face an uncertain future from predation, habitat loss, human destruction and conflict.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Edinburgh: Jungle City unveiled in Royal Botanic Gardens

Today saw the launch of Jungle City in Edinburgh’s Royal Botanical Gardens. There’s around 130 life sized animals dotted around the gardens, with some special ones on show in Harvey Nichols at St Andrew Square and inside The Dome on George Street.

The Elephant Family exists to save the endangered Asian elephant from extinction in the wild, along with tigers, orang-utans and all the other animals who share their habitat.

The Botanics are free to enter and the Jungle City is situated around the main paths and trees and easy to spot.

For those that want to learn more about the animals, there is an audio guide available and the £4.50 cost to hire the guide goes direct to the charity. One audio guide is fine per family as it is speaker-based and not through headphones.

The sculptures will remain in the Botanical Gardens for the next few weeks and will then be relocated on the streets of Edinburgh on 6th September. They will then regroup for one final gathering at the National Museum of Scotland, before being sold at auction in aid of the preservation of Asian elephants.
  •  There are 130 sculptures of mother and baby elephants, tigers, hornbills, crocodiles, orangutans and tigers. All have been creatively decorated by artists and celebrities.
  • Fifty of the sculptures can ‘talk’ and feature voiceovers by a number of celebrities including Andrea Corr, Dame Rula Lenska and Geri Halliwell. You will have the opportunity to use the audio guides to listen to the voices.
  • The Jungle City concept is the brainchild of Elephant Family founder and conservationist Mark Shand.
  • The online auction will go live on 22nd September – please visit for further details
  • The auction will take place 29th September at the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh.
We’ll be bringing you more pictures of our favourites and a full review in due course. When the animals move to the Edinburgh Streets, there will be a map available to track them all down.

Elephant merchandise is available to purchase at the Botanics and Harvey Nichols, with all the profit going direct to the cause.

You can find the Elephant Family and Jungle City on Facebook and follow them on twitter.