Ignorance Is Not Bliss

People can’t recognize the plants around them any more, which seems a bit odd. You’d think they’d be a bit inquisitive about the flowers and trees they see everyday, but most people wouldn’t be able to identify an ash (let alone one that’s diseased).

Many of our reptiles and amphibia are a complete unknown for most of us, particularly as they get rarer; I’m not sure I would have guessed that this splendid chap was in fact a native Briton – would you?* That lack of curiosity about what’s happening in our back gardens is problemmatic for the scientists. I went to a talk given by Pond Conservation’s Jeremy Biggs a couple of weeks ago, in which it became obvious that lack of funding and hence reliable data has been a real problem. As a result of PC’s work we’re only now getting sense of how polluted our ponds are, and how important garden ponds are in preserving our aquatic wildlife as a consequence.

Fill in a Record Pool Sighting Card!Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and ARG UK, whose 100% fund we support, are asking folk to record their sitings of amphibia and reptiles. You can click on the button on the left to take part, and their website carries links to helpful identification resources. This sort of citizen survey might seem a bit gimmicky, but it’s not; we’re desperately short of this kind of information. Our reptiles and amphibians seem to be in sharp decline, but the experts aren’t sure how how bad things really are, let alone the reasons why.

It’s also a good way of getting people to have a more careful and informed look at what they are seeing, which is a particular issue with anything looking remotely like an adder. Ignorance definitely isn’t bliss for the thousands of slow worms chopped up every year by gardeners who find them in their compost heaps.

*He’s a Natterjack Toad – photo from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation