Badgers need friends, especially with the multitude of threats they face today. But how do we win friends and influence people on Brock’s behalf? For Brockwatch, two particularly effective methods are attending events – such as the Countryside Open Day at Daventry Country Park, at which we had a stand on Sunday – and taking people to meet the badger ‘in person,’ which is what I did last night.
Attending events provides opportunities to grab people’s attention, raise awareness and exchange information. Our two stuffed badgers draw many visitors, allowing people to see (and feel!) what badgers are like and enabling us to talk about the problem of road casualties (both of our badgers met their deaths on roads). The photos and supporting information on our display panels provide further talking points. People learn more about badgers and their plight, discover what Brockwatch does to protect these creatures of the night, and find out how they can help.
In return we receive information about badgers from our visitors, who tell us about badgers in their gardens or of road casualties they have seen. To keep that flow of information coming, we give people copies of our leaflet, containing pictures, information and contact details, before they leave us. No doubt some of those leaflets are forgotten or discarded, but others lead to phone calls or e-mails, days, weeks or even months later. The first phone call to be generated by our attendance at Sunday’s Countryside Open Day came in within 24 hours! If only we had more volunteers willing to help us at these events, so that we could attend more of them and reach more people.
While photos and stuffed badgers play an important part in persuading people to befriend Brock, they are no substitute for the real thing. Entering the badger’s realm and watching these amazing animals in their natural environment is a very special experience. Last night I took three people to the woodland sett which has featured in many of the pages of this blog, so that they could share that experience. We were fortunate enough to see adults, yearlings and the tiny badger cub who I first spotted when I answered the call of the wild earlier this month. We had not been watching for long when a party of school children and their teachers approached the sett. They settled down some distance away, and thanks to the peanuts and sultanas which I had scattered over the sett, most of them managed to see one or more of the badgers. Unfortunately the wind then changed direction and the badgers, who could now smell our presence, retreated and remained below ground. It was time for us to leave.
Before we all left the wood, I made the most of this unanticipated opportunity to educate more people about badgers by showing the assembled school children a short video clip of the young cub which I had managed to capture on camera before the wind changed, and answered some of their questions. Hopefully, with the help of the badgers themselves, I managed to win quite a few friends for them last night!
Images taken from video captured at the sett on Monday evening.