Guest Post – Jonny Rankin #3: Badgers, Australia, and climate change


I sit down to write this at dusk on the commencement of the latest trial cull of badgers, down in the southwest. As such I cannot leave the subject unmentioned.

Do read Charlie’s post here and maybe even watch this video from the League:



Last night on Twitter I tried to get a feel for the thinking behind the pro cull lobby. The responses were enlightening:

  • A pig breeder in the southwest told me badgers sleep in her pig styes infecting her rare breeds and also her human neighbour (who also sleeps in a sty?);
  • A farm hand whose twitter feed consisted of Xbox gaming and internet pornography said as a badger hugger I should move from the countryside into the city; and
  • A New Zealand alpaca breeder said he hopes I contract TB.

I wont pass any judgement but the above nicely sums up the argument for the cull. Fifteen years ago my father and I helped the local badger group reinforce badger setts to thwart badger baiters, there was trial culls going on then too.

When will we get a government with the balls to commit to vaccination? Imagine if the current cull expenditure had been directed to vaccination…

Moving onto less distressing subjects I will shortly be going to Australia. It is my second ‘world trip’ following a trip to Eaglenest, India back in 2010. I am extremely pumped and although I’ll probably add a lifetimes worth of carbon guilt I hope to encounter a lifetimes worth of wildlife!

If I see a fraction of the available birds I will be deliriously content. I could live on a Humpback Whale or Albatross sighting for some years!

In preparation I am doing the expected reading of trip reports and pouring over field guides. The two Talking Naturally posts here and here certainly wet my appetite and this Pacific Black Duck post is sublime!

I am not posting just so we can all look at awesome Black Duck photos, I have also started a Twitter list collecting relevant organisations and individuals for the New South Wales Area together. If any readers know of any more or any birders in the Sydney area then do tweet me up: @Jonny09Jonny

Through collating this list and reading the resulting tweets I have seen some all to familiar parallels to our experiences in the UK. WWF Australia is pleading for the countries leaders to take action on climate change and Birdlife Australia is petitioning for more endangered species protection from the next government.

I wish our government would take Climate Change more seriously; it would be a start if everyone in government at least acknowledged Climate Change as real, ongoing and man-made. Sadly the benches in parliament are peppered with deniers. Some are prejudiced enough to believe mass immigration from warmer climes is as likely a culprit as global industrialisation!

I also hope our next government does more for endangered species. This government has lowered the bar sufficiently that it wouldn’t take much to improve upon the current situation.

I will actually arrive in Australia on ‘Threatened Species Day’ and hope to be able to join in with some of the events and learn about the issues facing Australian species. With so many endemics extinction strikes an even darker spectre than here in the UK.

As I prepare for the trip and during my visit I’ll be looking for more parallels between the situation in OZ and here. The main aim of the trip is catching up with friends and watching wildlife but it could offer some great insights to ‘Talk Naturally’ about and I look forward to sharing my experience.

Coincidently my non-birding girlfriend has just returned from a month long jaunt, she recorded an impressive amount of birds and wildlife for a non-birder! Here are my favourite of her holiday snaps:


Australian PelicanAustralian Pelican

Australian White IbisAustralian White Ibis

Southern Right Whale and CalfSouthern Right Whale and Calf



About Jonny Rankin:

jonny rankinMy Twitter bio says ‘Heavy metal bastard, dog owner, rider, birder, collector of tattoos and learner of moths.’

I am all of those things. Well, technically I am not a bastard as I have a father, that aside it is a pretty accurate description. In addition I volunteer for the RSPB and fundraise for the multi-partner Operation Turtle Dove.

Whilst I like the principle of the vegetarian and animal welfare efforts that Charlie pursues, I cannot claim to be vegetation or be so concerned about captive animal welfare. My output is wholly concentrated on the natural world.

Birds are my main area of interest and I am out in the field everyday. As with most people nowadays in addition to my own experiences I am exposed to a number of issues via my online reading. So I am going to ‘Talk Naturally’ from my perspective, it may not always be correct or even reasonable but it will be honest.

My most desired birds are Albatross (any!) and to self find Black Duck. The best birding Counties are Durham, Suffolk and Caithness.

I hope you enjoy (or depending who you are – get really upset by) my posts. Feel free to comment or send hate mail to me via Twitter @Jonny09Jonny


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About the author

Passionate about animal welfare and conservation, veggie and dairy-free, I live in the Wiltshire (UK) countryside. I co-founded Birders Against Wildlife Crime and Birds Korea. Trustee of the League against Cruel Sports On Twitter @charliemoores


  1. Steve says:

    Is it just me, or is the whole “will the government take climate change seriously while I fly off to Australia” angle a bit awkward?

  2. Charlie says:

    Ah, ‘individual responsibility’ vs ‘government legislation’ – an interesting subject I hope Jonny will address when he gets back…

  3. Jonny says:

    Hi Steve,

    With thanks for the comment. I don’t think it’s awkward – I acknowledged it:

    ‘I am extremely pumped and although I’ll probably add a lifetimes worth of carbon guilt I hope to encounter a lifetimes worth of wildlife!’

    This trip marks my first truly long haul flight – my traveling here is insignificant in the scheme of mans impact and in my opinion doesn’t mean I have to stop seeking to combat / promote climate change awareness…

  4. Steve says:

    that’s alright then

    because almost everyone’s contribution is insignificant in the great scheme of things

    So why should anyone make any changes?

  5. Jonny says:

    We should all make changes Steve,

    Can you highlight the changes you have made? Continue to make? I don’t take moral high ground (like you seem to be doing) but don’t own a car and lift share where possible, have changed the focus of my birding from twitch to more patch and County level as well as on foot and by bike.

    I also consider the surveys we undertake aa birders (moth’ers etc) either formalised or even casual recording via Birdtrack give us a superb platform for understanding the effects of climate change – as such I routinely survey and record wildlife.

    I’d love to get your thoughts and actions – it could even form the basis of my next post?

    Yours in anticipation,


  6. Steve says:


    I have made many changes, some fairly major, but that’s by the by. I don’t write blog posts and don’t wish to be seen as taking the moral high ground. I just think that flying to Australia while complaining that the government should do something about climate change is missing the point by a country mile. The argument that an individual’s impact is small so it doesn’t count or it doesn’t matter isn’t a view I share, as the logical extension of that is that there is little or no point in reducing our personal contributions to AGW – and if we go down that road it will not end well.

    I didn’t suggest you should stop doing anything to promote climate change awareness at all, and you won’t of course. Not going on long haul flights is a sacrifice, but it’s walking the walk and shows that we can do such things and the world doesn’t stop. And apart from the flight, it sounds like we would agree on everything else. So let’s recognise that at least!

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