This is a very quick post, and it is another one where I need your help ! Can we prove Chris Packham wrong about something ?
Ric Morris is another bone collector who I met earlier this year and he sent me a tweet about a really interesting interview in the Radio Times between Chris Packham (for people outside the UK he's a famous wildlife presenter who I met last year) and David Attenborough (who is the world's best wildlife film maker). Ric sent me the tweet because I thought I'd be interested in them talking about polar bear skulls but there was something else that was even more interesting to me when I read it today:
Chris Packham: When it comes to children, the one species that is extinct is the young naturalist. I'm out there all the time and I just don't see the boy that I was and you were. That's a disaster in waiting, isn't it ?
David Attenborough: Yes, and part of the reason for that is easy to identify, and that is because it is no longer allowed, no longer legal, to be a collector. I openly admit that I collected birds' eggs.
CP: So did I .
DA: And I knew, I bet like you did, when the right moment was when you could take one and the bird would lay another, so you didn't damage the population, and I learnt a lot. Now, I think, it's in the ledger of law, if you wanted to be pedantic, if you were to pick up a feather and put it in your pocket it would probably not be legal. And not to be allowed to collect fossils....
CP: One of my greatest agonies was being in northern Canada and happening across a polar bear carcass with a complete skull...and of course, I wasn't allowed to take it. I've still got this haunting vision in my mind of me hanging back, looking down, because the naturalist in me said "I must collect that skull". And what we did when we collected our skulls was we looked at them with such passion and love - and we learned our trade...It is very sad. I can't believe that future generations will learn their trade on television, on the internet and in libraries because the passion has to come from the heart. You've got to be able to set your alarm clock to go out and sit in a hide. Young people in particular are so disconnected from the natural world. It's a shame to think there aren't kids out there, isn't it ?First of all when I read it I thought he must be wrong about kid naturalists because I get loads and loads of emails and comments from people who are my age or a bit older. And I'm probably not as good as Chris was at my age but I'm doing it as well. But then I thought about it and the emails I get are from all over the world, not just from Scotland or even the UK. Then I thought about the people in my class in school. Even though we live in the countryside only about three people in my class out of 20 could recognise a bird of prey or tell types of deer apart and none of them are interested in bones at all.
I don't think it's difficult to be a collector, though, (although it's illegal to collect wild bird eggs) and I think David Attenborough is wrong about bird feathers. There are some bones you need licences for (like my bat skeleton, and another one I am going to write about soon), and birds of prey skulls you need to be careful with (although even my golden eagle didn't need a licence).
Perhaps what has changed is that there are more things that kids can do now without going outside, like game consoles, or parents are more scared about letting kids explore woods by themselves.
I would like to prove Chris Packham wrong because I believe that there are lots of brilliant kid naturalists in the UK. For example, Jack Neath wrote about his favourite skull a few weeks ago here, and Findlay Wilde has a brilliant bird-watching blog here. But who are the other brilliant young UK naturalists ? If you know about other young kid naturalists, post in the comments here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll try to write another post about it later and see if we can get him to change his mind !
Enjoy this post ? Share it !