Vigilant, Not Vigilante
Birders Against Wildlife Crime have a vision of how people
in the UK can unite to Watch Out For Wildlife #weseeyou
In early 2013, the RSPB reported that three million people in the UK regularly go birdwatching. Whether through a casual interest in seeing birds whilst taking part in other outdoor pursuits, or a more active (some would say obsessive) desire to find and record species, keeping Life, Year and Patch Lists, this represents a significant level of wildlife watching.
Recently a few people with a real desire to protect our wildlife started talking about how all this activity could be harnessed. From this discussion came BAWC - Birders Against Wildlife Crime. One of those people, Charlie Moores, introduced the idea in his blog - which you can see here. Two things really stand out for me :
Recognise, Record, Report
Charlie describes this as "the three R's". It's what we birders do when we are in the field, on the beach, even in the city.
How much more powerful would it be, if wildlife criminals were aware that three million of us were not only watching out for birds, but also watching out for them.
Today, BAWC's Twitter feed reported that someone had suggested our aim was to create an army of vigilantes. That's not the way I see it.
Good neighbours keep an eye out for each other as a matter of course. They aren't vigilantes, out on patrol. They just stay alert whilst doing the day to day.
Birders are naturally observant. We have the added benefit of bins and scopes, cameras and smart phones. We can adopt the three R's and make a real impact on wildlife crime. Without being confrontational. Without putting ourselves in harms way. Just doing what we love doing, recognising, recording and reporting what we see. In the coming months, it's BAWC's aim to make us all a lot more effective at this.
For further information, please follow @birdersagainst and visit the Birders Against Wildlife Crime Facebook page.
© phil w walton mmxiv