Sorry it has been a while since we last posted here.
All 10, 000 native trees were planted outside Athenry at the end of March and we hope that spring means that they are establishing their roots and starting to bud.
We have all been a bit unsettled by Coronavirus but don’t worry, there will be more posts to come, so please keep supporting us and sharing our campaign with others.
Today’s blog post!
The forests of Ireland were once ruled by wild animals. And not just foxes, badgers and rabbits….
In February, we went to see the lost animals of Ireland’s forgotten forests.
Wild Ireland is based in county Donegal. It is a rescue and rehabilitation centre for animals of all kinds. But most importantly, those who were native to Ireland’s forests before being hunted to extinction.
Wild Ireland has rescued these, so they cannot be directly reintroduced. The bears cannot swim and the wolves cannot breed. But one day… who knows?
Long ago, bears, wolves and lynx were a sight observed y many a forestgoer.
Now… they’re back. Here are our impressions of what we saw:
Wild Ireland has a track to go around and see all the animals. The most spectacular and native were…
Wild Ireland’s Lynx was rescued from a pet shop, where the owner was making money from her by making her pose for photos with customers. Sadly, this is still legal.
But she was rescued, and now is becoming more wild again. It is amazing to look at her and think how she and her kind would have roamed the forests. But she is not tame.
She is a dangerous creature with the right to be treated with respect.
Lynx were not thought to have been in Ireland until a fossil bone was found in a cave. They are not so well preserved as bears because they slept and died in the open forest.
These wolves were reared from pups by Killian, the creator of this amazing project.
They act like puppies around him, they know him so well!
They are crossbreeds of different subspecies of grey wolf. One is pure white (though it had been digging in the mud and was brown when I saw it) because it is an arctic wolf.
I was lucky enough to see them play together. And as I left one let out a spine chilling howl… a sound that has not been heard here for centuries.
The last Irish wolf was deliberately hunted to extinction in 1789.
The three brown bears at wild Ireland were rescued from a tiny, dirty concrete cage in a museum in Lithuania.
They are now adapting to being more free… but they cannot swim.
And though the male has recovered from his trauma, his sisters still go inside their smaller area and pace the edge.
It was all they could do were they were before they were rescued.
Hopefully they will grow out of that sad habit soon.
Brown bears were the apex predators of the forest. Scary, some say, but really a sign of wilderness and true forest.
I love to see these beautiful, majestic and truly amazing animals back in our forests. We killed them off… should we bring them back? If we plant the forests again, maybe one day these wild creatures will not be such a rare sight. Maybe we will hear the howl of the wolf in the trees again.
We arrived, and the first animals we saw were foxes. They were agitated because they had just been cleaned out. Then we saw a barn owl, ferrets and rabbits. Up a tree in the real wild, I saw a treecreeper.
There were really cute guinea pigs. The Barbary Macaques had been saved from being pets. When they were pets, some of them had worn nappies.
We saw a fascinating lynx that needs forests. It jumped up at the fence. We also saw wolves with great howls!
But my favourite was the bears. They were so proud and majestic, but they need native pines greatly. I kept going back to them.
We at last saw an otter, too. It seemed to be showing off. All this shows that without Ireland’s native woodland, we have lost our fantastic wildlife.
Unfortunately, due to the Coronavirus emergency, Wild Ireland is currently shut to visitors but we hope it will open again soon, so you can meet these wonderful animals. In the meantime, you can follow their progress here:
Please do take a look!