Last gasp of the iconic red squirrel?
TAKE ACTION to save the red squirrel
29th September, 2011
The Red Squirrel Appeal aims to raise money to develop a vaccine for a deadly disease that is quickly destroying the remaining population
As an Ecologist investigation recently revealed, red squirrels are under siege from habitat loss, disease and diminished funding from conservation groups. The species is currently 'almost extinct' in England with only a few thousand remaining in Wales.
An estimated 60 per cent of grey squirrels, which since 1920 have replaced red squirrels in much of England and Wales, carry the squirrel parapoxvirus, referred to as squirrel pox. Greys very rarely die from this disease as their population has developed immunity over many years. However, they are still carriers of the infection and can spread the disease to red squirrels.
No red squirrels are known to have developed immunity to the disease, and the mortality rate for untreated infected squirrels in the wild appears to be total, most dying within two weeks of being infected. Whole populations can be rapidly wiped out.
Painful lesions develop and spread over the red squirrel, particularly around the eyes and nose. As the disease progresses, reds, crippled and unable to see to feed themselves, starve to death. Some also die from secondary infections contracted through the raw skin.
A campaign to halt the spread of squirrelpox virus has been launched by the Wildlife Ark Trust.
'The Wildlife Ark Trust, a registered charity, decided it was essential to develop a vaccine to protect the red squirrel from the effects of this virus. Working with internationally renowned Moredun Research Institute, it has begun work to identify a vaccine,' said Mr Robin Wilkin, Chairman of the Wildlife Ark Trust.
The Wildlife Ark Trust has already raised £320,000 out of a total £408,000 for the vaccine programme. It aims to raise the remaining £88,000 for the final six months of this landmark project through the Red Squirrel Appeal.
TAKE ACTION to save the red squirrel
You can also donate by post by sending your cheque, made payable to the Wildlife Ark Trust, to the Red Squirrel Appeal, the Wildlife Ark Trust, P O Box 63, Consett DH8 0UR.
Exclusive film Mexico's poor suffer as food speculation fuels tortilla crisis
A surge in financial speculation on maize is causing vastly inflated prices for corn tortillas - a sacred staple in Mexico - and threatening the health and livelihoods of the country's poor. Tom Levitt investigates
News investigation Scandal of the 'tomato slaves' harvesting crop exported to UK
Across Italy an invisible army of migrant workers harvests tomatoes destined for our dinner plates. Paid poverty wages and living in squalor, medical charities have described conditions as 'hell'. Andrew Wasley reports from Basilicata, southern Italy
Export of Zimbabwean diamonds threatens ethical jewellery trade
With the Kimberley Process in a state of paralysis over Zimbabwean diamonds, consumers can no longer be sure they’re buying ethical jewels. Ahead of a BBC Panorama investigation into the issue, Rosie Spinks reports
Water trading: how the world's most vital resource is up for sale
Like carbon trading, REDD and food speculation before it, the buying and selling of water is just the latest example of market principles being applied to natural resources. But just how ethical is it? Debika Ray reports
|HOW TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE
Up in smoke: a scientist's mission to stop slash-and-burn farming
An Ecologist cover story in 2005 prompted the making of an epic documentary, Up in Smoke, about slash and burn farming. Now the film finally airs on More4 on September 27th... Matilda Lee reports
Using this website means you agree to us using simple cookies.