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Conservation inspiration: new habitats

Give the hog a home – and teach youngsters

The park's hedgehog hotel inspires both adults and children alike
The park’s hedgehog hotel inspires both adults and children alike

Providing homes for wildlife is a key feature of the David Bellamy Scheme. At Eden Valley in Cornwall, the park team has gone the extra mile by focusing on hedgehogs – a much-loved animal that is an integral part of the British countryside, but which has faced a significant decline in numbers in recent years.

To help the hog, the park uses a quiz sheet to raise the awareness of visiting children, and also encourages them to write about the hedgehogs that live on site. The park has also set up some really ambitious hedgehog homes and hotels.

“We decided to undertake this project because hedgehogs are seen regularly in and around our park,” says park proprietor Ginny Hopkins, “In fact, just beside my house a family of hedgehogs decided to make their home in amongst some bushes.”

To build their latest hedgehog hotel Ginny’s daughter’s partner, a carpenter, used wood that was left over from a house build, as well as some old roofing material.

“The result was amazing,” says Ginny. “We named it Hog Towers, it certainly made our Mrs Tiggiwinkle feel as if she had won the lottery!”

The park’s new nature trail hedgehog quiz has proved very popular and has been helped along by all the information and books that are displayed in Eden Valley’s wildlife room, which is named EV’s house.

“The trail and our newest hotel always get both the adults and children talking, discussing and working together,” says Ginny. “This is lovely to see and many adults are amazed to see how much their children are taking an interest in their surroundings.”

The overall winner of this year’s short story was written by James aged 10. It final message was an emphatic: “NEVER TAKE HEDGEHOGS AWAY FROM THEIR HABITAT!”

The project shows how focusing on a local species can create a real buzz and get people thinking about conservation.

“Our aim next year is to build a library of wildlife photos sent in from our guests and hopefully make them into a video to display on our TV in the wildlife room,” says Ginny. “Hopefully Mrs Tiggiwinkle will tell her friends all about us so we have even more hedgehogs visiting.”

Seeking inspiration for new ways in which your park can help protect the natural world? In these articles, Rufus Bellamy, head of the David Bellamy Conservation Award Scheme, highlights some of the latest initiatives being taken. For more ideas, visit http://stayuknews.co.uk/conservation/