London is home to a vast range of wonderful and unique species, but despite it being the greenist city in Europe it has a major issue with widespread wildlife crime happening across it’s 32 boroughs. Reading the report put together by WSPA and the Met police, it really puts it into perspective how huge this issue is.
Birds are vulnerable to baiting, poisoning and trapping (especially song birds in glue traps!), and even their eggs can be highly sought after by collectors. Badgers, the topic of many conservation activists over the past year, are often killed inhumanely, especially in links to railway embankments and London Underground when they chose to build their setts in these areas. Britain’s biggest land mammal, the deer, is also at risk from attacks by untrained dogs, but also naïve citizens thinking they are rescuing abandoned fauns, when they are in fact jeopardising their chance of survival. Modern architecture and new developments pose a threat to existing bat roosts, and rubbish in our waterways causes entanglement as well as damage to ecosystems essential for fish. Some species are even considered pests, or in the case of the watervole mistaken for species that are (i.e. rats), and ultimately killed with traps and poison. The most persistent issue in London however, is with foxes who are victimised due to negative and misleading media coverage. Anti social behaviour has also been seen dramatically with wildfowl, where people have been known to beat and attack wildlife in public places.
There is wildlife trafficking and illegal trade which is evident in London and even fueled by our economy. With the sale of ivory and animal skins in popular areas of the city, as well as exotic animals being brought in illegally either as pets or bush meat, it is mind blowing to see how such a thriving city can be such a hub of crime usually associated with Asian or African ways. WSPA UK have worked tirelessly with Metropolitan Police and MOPAC to bring these issues to government, and obtain financial support for the essential wildlife Crime Unit in the met police. This was finally made successful in Jan 2014. Through education, law enforcement and changes in agricultural or development practices, wildlife will hopefully be able to breathe a little easier in London now. With this major success for conservation, I just hope that cities across the UK can see that through policing wildlife crime and enforcing the Animal Welfare Act 2006 effectively, we can really improve wildlife conservation and animal welfare in our great country! Further reading:
Exclusive in the Evening Standard: http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/yard-backs-wildlife-crime-unit-in-fight-against-traffickers-9063805.html
Wildlife Crime Unit Website: http://content.met.police.uk/Site/wildlifecrime