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Highland Mammals past and present is the theme for High Life Highland countryside rangers next year – it aims to highlight to the younger generation the different species around them and what they can do to conserve them

By Ian Duncan

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Starthpeffer small animal trapping.
Starthpeffer small animal trapping.

High Life Highland countryside rangers will be offering every school across the region the opportunity to take part in conservation work for mammals.

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

Donald Mitchell, countryside ranger for north west Sutherland, 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.

“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.”

Pine Marten by Les Pearce.
Pine Marten by Les Pearce.

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.

Otter by David Haines.
Otter by David Haines.

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 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 here.

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