It's a New Year, and it's always at this time that people like me get all pensive - thinking about the year just gone and the year ahead. Although many will be thinking of a host of resolutions and changes, new jobs, new diet and the like, for me and many like me my thoughts always relate to animals...
Figures released by DEFRA on 16th December reveal that almost 1500 badgers were shot under license in the cull zones in Gloucestershire, Somerset and Dorset in 2015. This brings the total number of badgers killed to almost 4,000 over the past three years, at a cost to the taxpayer that's probably in the region of £25 million.
Now I am sure that there are many owners who treat their exotic pets wonderfully but in my opinion these animals are not meant to be domesticated. The joy of a monkey or parrot cannot be seen when caged. It is seeing these creatures in their natural environment that brings the wonder and awe of the animal kingdom to us.
Ethical travel is becoming more popular, but we still have a negative impact on our environment to the point where it is just a matter of years until some of the most beautiful places on the planet will have disappeared. Not just animals can be endangered; there are also a number of places which could vanish very soon.
According to the latest European Food Standards Agency report (2010), lead from game meat represents less than 0.1% of the total dietary lead exposure. Compare this to cereals and potatoes which come in at over 40%. In fact, the average person gains more than 60 times more lead from beer than game meat.
We always seem to look afar when it comes to seeing wildlife. It seems more exciting, colourful and diverse on every continent other than Europe. Tropical birds are more colourful than a gull, that much is true, but you don't have to go abroad to find unique and breathtaking wildlife. Why not stay in Europe for your next trip?
We can't hide from it, just as we can't trot down the M25 in a horse and cart anymore, so we have to find a way of managing it and making it part of a balanced life. It is part of our children's lives and brings many wonderful benefits - any five year old who has played on Google Earth knows the mind bending sense of awe of zooming out and out from their home to see the planet as a green and blue sphere.