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Hi, my name’s Chris, I’ve always been an animal lover and hate to see any animal suffering.
Since my childhood I’ve had a passion for nature and its wildlife, and throughout my life I’ve learnt so much, with the help and guidance of others I’m indebted to. I’ve watched badgers and foxes in their natural habitats and studied different species of our native animals, but always felt there was something missing.
Then back in the late 80’s I heard about our British big cats and immediately contacted the local big cat expert in Leicestershire, David Spencer who has sadly since passed away. He became a fantastic friend and mentor and taught me a great deal about our large British felines. However, despite all I learned and all the reports I read regarding these elusive creatures, I still felt there was something missing.
Then one day, my attention was brought to the other exotic fauna out there on this green island, such as wallabies, raccoons, and eagle owls, the list goes on. So I began collating these varied reports from 2001 right up until 2016, when I met with an owner who had just lost his pet skunk. It was then it hit me, I’d been treating all these exotics as just statistics, not thinking they were someone’s lost pet. So thereafter I began to view all reports as lost exotic pets and decided to take a more hands on approach to these situations and help in trying to find them and get them home safely, before any danger befalls them.
Since beginning BeastWatch U.K. Search & Rescue operation, which is predominantly run by exotic keepers for the benefit of exotic keepers, we’ve seen successes and failures and although it touches our hearts when we see the gratitude on the owners faces when we do succeed. it saddens us greatly when we fail.
This is usually because we either didn’t get there in time or we didn’t have the necessary equipment in that given region to deal effectively with that specific animal or situation. These animals are unlikely to have the ability to fend for themselves, as they were most likely captive bred, so they will be scared and disorientated being alone outside the confines of their enclosures or homes. They may become aggressive or risk causing road traffic accidents, most will slowly starve to death or be predated on by our native species. In some cases they may adversely affect the welfare of native fauna.
Now our aim is to provide a full and comprehensive range of recapture equipment, including two-way radios and night vision aids, catchpoles, net-guns, and humane traps of all different sizes and styles as well as any required training for our members in the safe use of any equipment, so we can get the right equipment and search parties out there within those vital initial hours after a report of a sighting or an escape.
Then we will begin to see the effectiveness of a well equipped and responsive nationwide network of volunteers because in many cases the chance of an escaped exotic surviving for long alone in the UK is very poor without the dedicated efforts of our members.
BeastWatch UK (BWUK) relies totally upon donations to purchase capture equipment and travel, so if you can help in any way, even the smallest of donations will get us closer to our goal, and larger donations will get us there quicker.