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Schools can study Highland mammals: past and present

By David G Scott

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High Life Highland Countryside Rangers will be offering schools in Caithness the opportunity to take part in conservation work for mammals.

Highland mammals, past and present, is the theme for the ranger service next year, aiming to highlight to the younger generation the different species around them and what they can do to conserve them.

Countryside Ranger for north west Sutherland Donald Mitchell said: “The pupils will go out with their local Ranger and look for tracks and signs and collect evidence of mammals within their own areas or school grounds.

Otters frolicking. Picture: David Haines
Otters frolicking. Picture: David Haines

“We will show the pupils what to look for and how to send in their sightings and photographs as part of the scientific recording process. We aim to make pupils more aware of the large range of the special mammal species that occur within the Highlands, from water voles to Scottish wildcats, and from otters to pipistrelle bats.

“We will be looking particularly at those priority species for conservation as identified in the new Highland Biodiversity Action Plan. Nature is under pressure as never before but there are things we can do, and our first step is to educate our young learners about what mammals we have.”

Children examine small animals that have been trapped.
Children examine small animals that have been trapped.

By taking part, it is hoped pupils will build on their connection with nature and learn how to show care and respect to the natural world through practical conservation tasks such as habitat improvements, wildlife gardening, tree planting, and improving their school grounds.

Pupils will be given the chance to showcase their skills by creating a model, producing art, or taking photographs in a Highland mammal competition – to be judged by a yet to be disclosed, but well-known, wildlife personality.

Pine Marten. Picture: Les Pearce
Pine Marten. Picture: Les Pearce

Mr Mitchell added: “There are 40 species of mammals living in the Highlands today and we host unique and endangered species.

“We have lost species in the distant past such as the lynx and some are currently teetering on the edge of extinction such as the Scottish wildcat but due to its wilderness, the Highlands have always been a refuge for many mammals and we hope to conserve it for many years into the future.”

For schools to get involved, contact your local ranger at www.highlifehighland.com/rangers/

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