Should wolves in Europe have their conservation downgraded? Are they really stable enough to be hunted again

The European commision has proposed downgrading the protection of wolves from their current strictly protected, but it has been suggested that this is not based on any science.

A total of 9 countries (The call for a re-evaluation of the annexes of the EU Habitats Directive is included in a note put forward by Finland with the support of Austria, Czechia, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Romania, Slovakia and Sweden, ahead of the EU Agriculture Council meeting of 23 January).

The problem with this move, is that while in some countries like Romania, there is a large and healthy wolf population, in other countries like France it is a very different matter. If there is a change in their status, it needs to be assessed country by country, and the European Union must really require minimum levels, otherwise, this move is highly likely to lead to the extinction of the wolf across much of Europe once again.

While living alongside wolves is not always simple, it is essential to have predators to control populations of prey, such as deer. This is not something that is easily replaced by culling, and in the UK, the likely reduction in car collisions with deer would save far more than the cost of compensation for the occasional livestock that might be lost (of course, the wolf is not currently wild in the UK and the current government sees no reason to change this).

While complicated, the interest in the wolf is high, and it is highly likely that farmers would be able to supplement their farming income by money they could be paid through ecotourism and allowing people to try to see the wolves from their land. Wolves as with many other species are still slowly recovering from centuries of persecution, they are needed for our ecosystem to flourish, and can be good for everyone, with adjustments and compensation for loss of livestock.

Paignton zoo in Devon has a baby Dik-Dik

The dik-dik is a small antelope, found in East Africa. I have been lucky enough to encounter them on many occasions, when on safari in Kenya.

They tend to move around in pairs, and the bond is so strong, it is not uncommon for them to follow each other out in front of cars.

A Kirk’s dik-dik in the wild

With a population of almost 1 million, this species is listed as least concern, never-the-less it is of great interest to see it in captivity.

Paignton zoo had a baby dik-dik arrive on new years day, so it will be even smaller than normal.

Otters not yet safe in Cumbria

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The recovery of otters in the UK continues apace, but threats remain

Otters were once one of the most common predators in the UK. However, being apex predators, they are the first sign of contamination in the system. This is because, while each fish may have a low enough dose to not be impacted, when the otter has eaten many fish they are impacted.

The main threats have been chemical runoff from farms, though sewage is also a problem. 

By the 1980s, the British otter was virtually extinct from large parts of the country, only surviving in remote places, far from people and pollution. Oddly, otter hunting with special hounds was not banned until 1981, which will not have helped.

No more! Otters are now found within all counties of the UK. Now, it is true that otters are hard to see – they have always been. Generally they are species which require you to be out at strange times of the day, or just very lucky.

There are places to head where this is not the case, such as the Isle of Mull and similar islands around the UK, where the otters are dependent on the tide, so can be easier to find active in daylight.

On mainland Britain, it seems that Cumbria is an increasingly good place to look, with all suitable habitat now occupied.

Time will tell, but hopefully in the near future, this will be the case all over the UK.

Do not buy a hydrogen boiler!

The UK watchdog (amongst many other groups) have concluded that hydrogen boiler is a stupid idea. It is true that its only waste product is water and oxygen, but the cost of making the hydrogen is very high.

Should there be large quantities of hydrogen sitting around, then this might make sense – burning hydrogen is generally a very clean fuel. The problem is, that it is almost impossible to store or transport it without loosing much on route, and it is incredibly expensive to split water – the current form for the vast majority of the hydrogen on the planet. Fossil fuel companies are keen, because their old methods can extract and split hydrogen, but it will mean large carbon emissions as well, so is useless – there is a reason that it is called grey hydrogen. Green hydrogen is the only kind that will give us any profit as a world.

So why is the government supporting the switch (alongside gas focused industry). The department for energy security and net zero stated this week that the gas network ” will always be part of our energy system”. I am not sure why anyone would look at it, given an air-source heat pump is likely to be around price parity, and ground source heating even cheaper.

Installation, at the cheap end will be far cheaper than a heat-pump, but this will be more than made up for over the lifetime of the device. Furthermore, with the grants currently available, you are far better off going straight to a heat pump. This is a waste of time and money, and it would not be remotely surprising, if you had to remove it before the end of its life,as it would be costing too much

Largest offshore windfarm just powered up, and its just off UK

This vast wind farm can produce around 3.6 gigawatts of power when turned on. To put that in perspective, peak demand in the UK is currently around 61 gigawatt hours, This means that even at peak demand, this wind turbine is capable of providing roughly 5% of the UK power demand. By contrast, the average house in the UK has a low-point in power demand, during the night, when around 0.2kwh is used an hour. This equates to around 5gigawatt hours. In other words, this single wind farm is likely to be able to deal with all baseload demands of the UK housing. Of course there is other demand, from shop lights being left on, to night shifts in factories.

However, what is clear, is that this is a significant amount of power, and is likely to greatly reduce the amount of gas required to be burnt for power production.

Given that this adds to the already installed stock, we now can create around 30gwh of electricity from wind – when it is at its peak.

Now, of course the wind does not blow at this required rate to produce the maximum amount of power 24 hours a day, so these numbers are not available all day.

To put these numbers in context, in 2022, wind delivered around 26% of UK electricity. Given all the large wind farms planned, this will grow.

“EU must cut carbon emissions 3 times faster to meet targets”

A new report has calculated that the EU is only cutting carbon emissions at 1/3 of the rate which is required in order to meet the 55% cut – from buildings, transport and agriculture by 2030

While emissions are falling, they are not falling anywhere near fast enough

Over the last 30 years, carbon emissions have dropped by 32% . while this is an impressive amount, it is far short of the promise.

The best predictions for the future, are that by 2050 the EU will have cut emissions by around 43%. While this is an important step, it is far short of what has been promised.

More importantly, at the current rate, we will have only met a further 1/3 by 2050.

The job is not done – much of the carbon emissions from the last 3 decades have been easy to achieve. They have been achieved through efficiency gains, and moving production offshore. Very little change in the EU behaviour has been required.  

An easy gain, both for individual cost, and emissions is electric cars. A faster transition is likely to save countries much money too (though it is true that at the current time, there is an issue with the tax revenue coming from fossil fuel sales.

It is far cheaper to run clean alternatives, so we must make that show in the figures.

Some governments are making efforts to help, but not in every way. For instance, in the UK, you can get money towards an electric car, but not a used one (which given the reduction in price, is likely to go further and help more. On heat pump the government is doing better – with the increase in the air-source heat pump grant, the cost to individuals has reduced to around 3500 (on average buying a heat-pump as well as installing and changing radiators to work with the lower temperature (bigger) the cost is around £11,000. However, many people have missed the advertising, and are unaware. It is true that new build homes will not be allowed to install boilers after 2025. 

However, older houses with gas boilers will be unaffected by the change until 2035. But the average cost for a new boiler, plus installation is thought to be around £4000, in 2023, meaning that for many homes, it will be cheaper to replace now.

Furthermore, while an air-source heat pump is thought to be around £50 more to run each year, should something like a thermal solar panel be added, the cost is far lower.

With carefully designed rules for builders, the switch to low cost private transport, and low cost private house heating can be cheap and obvious. At the current rate, though, this is not being met.

In the UK, clearly better understanding and education is essential, and builders need to see that adding things like thermal solar panels is a must.

Will it happen? will the EU meet our 55% target? at current speed, it is clear that this will be hard work. However, if this money is not found, we are likely to need far more in the future to adapt to the world we are creating.



The Aardvark is an incredibly rarely seen animal. It is found on the savannahs of Africa, and generally lives well in and out of protected areas. It is quite a sizable aniimals, and has relatively high densities throughout its range (roughly 1 per square km in habitats that it is best suited to).

So why is it so rare to see this animal? They are one of the most exclusively nocturnal species that you can find. These are animals for which wildlife guides get excited.

The name, translated from Afrikaans means earth-pig. They are incredible diggers, and many of the burrows in the savannah are dug by them, who ever ends up using them.

The are insect eaters, and are well suited. Their claws are strong, allowing them to dig into the incredibly hard termite mounds, it has a long tongue of around 30cm, which they can direct down ant holes to get hold of their food. They have an incredible sense of smell and hearing to allow them to find the animals, and can shut their eyes and nose so as to avoid being attacked back.

Although rarely seen, there are places which have learnt how to watch them, giving you a great chance to see an animal few know about. Over recent decades, they have started appearing in zoos, with Colchester in the UK (should you visit, it is a species that needs patience, otherwise you are likely to just see a pile of aardvarks sleeping in their burrow.

It is at the top of animals I would like to see in the wild. Given, their range both in and out of reserves, I am hoping over time to build up plenty of places to see them out in the human world. Please get in touch if you are a farmer, who has these on your land.

Any of the savannah ecosystems on our wild places list will host these animals, however a great deal of luck will be needed to see them in the wild. However, we will add an special places we find where your odds are higher. For now, click here, if you want to visit a savannah ecosystem in the near future.

White-beaked dolphin

White beaked dolphin

The white-beaked dolphin  is a marine mammal belonging 

to the family Delphinidae (oceanic dolphins) in the sub order Odontoceti (toothed whales). Their distribution is shown in the map.

The white-beaked dolphin is endemic to the cold temperate and subarctic waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, most commonly in seas less than 1,000 m (3,300 ft) deep. Due to the fact they are not fully adapted to Arctic conditions, they are more vulnerable to predators, most notably polar bears. Within this wider region, white-beaked dolphins are most commonly found in four locales: on the Labrador Shelf close to southwestern Greenland, around Iceland, off the northern and eastern coasts of Britain, and off the coast of Norway. In the Faroe Islands between Iceland and the United Kingdom the White-beaked dolphin is at risk of being hunted during drive catches of the long-finned pilot whales. They may also be incidentally trapped in the purse-sein and trawl nets of the area. There are no recognised subspecies.

The dolphin may easily be misidentified as the Atlantic white-sided dolphin, although the white-beaked is commonly found further north. The white-beaked dolphin is also typically larger, and does not have yellow streaks on its side.

Below is a video (no sound) of them filmed under water off the coast of the UK. Northern parts of the UK have populations, including Lyme bay and areas around the hebrides.

They are thought to number 100,000, so are listed as least concern.

Rishi Sunak is making a stupid decision – end of combustion car sales in 2030?

It was only 3 years ago that the government said from 2030 there would be no more combustion engine, yet his most recent decision rolls this back (though it should be noted that he is still aiming for 80% electric car sales by 2030) along with reducing the requirements landlords to insulate their homes so it is cheaper for their renters to heat their home.

Will this foolish back-track be undone after the next election? Will it be seen as a senseless foolish move in the future? I think that this government will struggle to claim climate responsibility in the future

Continue reading “Rishi Sunak is making a stupid decision – end of combustion car sales in 2030?”

The Manned wolf

Looking, at first glance, like a fox on stilts, it is found in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, and Paraguay, and is almost extinct in Uruguay. It is actually not a wolf or a dog, but instead sits in its own genus Chrysocyon  which means “golden dog”. It is crepuscular and omnivorous, and lives on the open habitat of the South America Savanna. The IUCN classes it as near threatened, while a Brazilian organisation with a similar role lists it as vulnerable.

Its name in a local language calls it a big fox. Indeed some studies have suggested that it should be in the same genus as pseudo-foxes.

A recent study suggested that its nearest relative was the Falkland islands wolf, and its mainland relatives – but you have to go back 7 million years to find a common ancestor with this group.

It only hunts solitarily, and its preferred habitat is grasslands, scrub prairies, and forests.

It is not currently considered endangered, given its wide area in which it inhabits, never-the-less it is recognized as a near threatened species due to its reducing numbers. In Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay it is forbidden to hunt them. It has been used to publicize the fight to protect the Brazilian cerrado, by placing it on one of the Brazilian notes.

This animal was shown in great detail in planet earth 3 episode 3, however, this clip is from a bbc series a few years ago.

As we make contacts which you can use to plan your travel to see this animal for yourself.

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