New Card Game: SOS Save Our Species

SOS Save Our Species is a new card game designed by 16-year-old Jackson in partnership with WWF. It’s about the problems facing animals in different habitats from forests to polar habitats to grasslands to oceans. You have to try and save as many animals as possible but you can only save animals if you save their habitats too.

You can get SOS Save Our Species through Kickstarter. I was sent a copy to try.

I think SOS Save Our Species is incredible! It’s really fun to play and I love the way it’s based on saving animals in real life. You can’t just save one kind of animal by itself, you have to make a whole biome. For example, to save black rhinos or ground pangolins, you have to make a grassland biome, and if you want to save Sumatran orangutans or Sunda Island tigers, you have make a forest biome. That’s like real life because animals can’t live by themselves, they’re part of an ecosystem and they need the whole ecosystem to survive.

The game also has Wildlife Corridor cards which mean you can link to other players’ biomes. For example, if you have a forest biome and someone else has a forest biome you can play a Wildlife Corridor and it means at the end of the game if your forest biome is still surviving you’ll get points from the other person’s forest too. If your forest gets destroyed, your animals will be able to migrate down the corridor to the other person’s biome. I love this because it shows how important wildlife corridors are in real life.

I also like the way the game includes real life problems like deforestation, intensive farming and loss of sea ice. These are on event cards, which can have good or bad things on them. The good ones are things like grant awarded and bonus national park and the bad ones mean your habitats can get destroyed and your animals might go extinct. The worst one is extreme warming, which can destroy lots of different habitats!

SOS Save Our Species packs up into a small box, so it will be good for taking on the train or camping, and it doesn’t take too long to play, which means we’ve been able to play it lots. My whole family loves playing it!

Here’s a video I made about SOS Save Our Species.

You can support SOS Save Our Species and get your copy through Kickstarter. After the Kickstarter campaign, all the profits from the game will go to WWF and other conservation charities.

I think SOS Save Our Species is an amazing game and everyone will love it!

Hedgehog Rescue

On 29th September last year we were at a playground when someone found two hedgehogs stuck in netting. One of the staff at the playground cut them free and we took them to Solihogs Hedgehog Rescue.

The lady at the hedgehog rescue weighed the hedgehogs and said they were a bit dehydrated and underweight so she decided to keep them at the hedgehog rescue until they were big enough to hibernate and possibly all winter.

It turned out to be all winter. When they woke up she sent us a message saying they were ready to release. She asked us to take them to our garden to release them instead of at the playground because she thought it would be safer and also we can feed them every night. She knew our garden is good for hedgehogs because there are hedgehogs there already.

We got two new hedgehog houses for them then we went to collect them. They were much bigger than when we found them and there was one very big one!

We put them into the hedgehog houses and blocked the doors up with cardboard to stop them going all over the car! Then we took them home and put the hedgehog houses in our garden and unblocked the ends. We covered the hedgehog houses with sticks to make them safe and warm for the new hedgehogs.

That night the hedgehogs came out to explore!

Netting can be very dangerous for hedgehogs so if you have netting in your garden please tidy it up! If you find an injured hedgehog or see one out in the day, please take it to your nearest hedgehog rescue. You can find your nearest wildlife rescues at helpwildlife.co.uk. To find out more about helping hedgehogs you can play my Hedgehog Highways board game.

World Bonobo Day

Today is World Bonobo Day!

Bonobos are a type of great ape and they share 98.7% of their DNA with humans. Their only home is in the rainforest in the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa. You can see them in England at Twycross Zoo in North Warwickshire.

Bonobos are one of my favourite animals. I like them so much because they are cute and cheeky. They are peaceful, loving and kind and they share with each other. In bonobo groups the Mummy is in charge.

Bonobos are Endangered on the IUCN Red List. The problems for bonobos include habitat loss due to logging, land clearance for farming and mining. Another big problem is poaching for bush meat and they also get captured and sold as pets.

I’ve made a shadow puppet play about the problems for bonobos and how you can help them by recycling old mobile phones. Mobile phones contain a mineral called coltan which is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mining for coltan causes habitat loss for animals like bonobos as well as other great apes like gorillas and chimpanzees, and lots of other wildlife.

The play is called Boboto the Bonobo.

One of the places you can take old mobile phones for recycling is at Twycross Zoo. We collected old mobile phones from our house and we asked other people in our family to give us their old mobile phones and we took them to Twycross Zoo today with our cousins.

We also saw Upendi, the new baby bonobo who has been born at Twycross Zoo and is about one month old. Upendi means “love” in Swahili. He or she (they don’t know yet) was tiny and very cute and cuddly. Upendi was holding onto the mummy, Cheka, tightly and Cheka was cuddling Upendi. Upendi kept holding on tightly while Cheka was climbing. The other bonobos were all crowding round to look at Upendi. There was another little bonobo who was swinging around everywhere, being very cheeky and messing up the bedding.

I’ve also made a poster about bonobos, some of the problems for them and how you can help them.

Lola Y Bonobos/ Friends of Bonobos help bonobos in the Democratic Republic of Congo. They rescue and look after baby bonobos who have been sold illegally as pets. They have a big reserve where bonobos can be released and live safely in the wild. They also educate people about the problems for bonobos and how to help them.

Happy World Bonobo Day!

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch

Don’t forget the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch is this weekend!

On Friday I helped my Grandma and Grandpa do the Big Garden Birdwatch in their garden, and today we did it in our garden. These are the results we got:

Blue tit: 3
Goldfinch: 4
Robin: 1
Blackbird: 2
Dunnock: 1
House sparrow: 27
Starling: 4
Chaffinch: 2
Collared dove: 1
Wood pigeon: 1
Great tit: 2

These are the results from Grandma and Grandpa’s garden:

Wood pigeon: 2
Dunnock: 1
Blue tit: 5
Robin: 2
Goldfinch: 3
Redpoll: 1
Chaffinch: 4
Blackbird: 2
Blackcap: 2
Nuthatch: 2
Coal tit: 2
Magpie: 1

Grandma and Grandpa had more different species of birds in their garden, but we had a lot more house sparrows. I think this is probably because we live closer to farmland and there are more hawthorn hedges nearby, while Grandma and Grandpa live in an area with more mature trees.

We’ve noticed the numbers of house sparrows are falling. This might be because there are less hedges here than there used to be. Our starling numbers have fallen a lot too (last spring we had 50 starlings, now we only have 4) but hopefully we’ll have lots of baby starlings again in the spring.

Taking part in the Big Garden Birdwatch is important because it helps the RSPB to find out about which birds are falling in numbers, and how to help them. You can find out how to take part and enter your results here.

Spooky Tips for Helping the Planet at Halloween!

Halloween can be especially bad for the planet! It causes loads of food waste when people carve pumpkins and then throw them away. And lots of plastic decorations are sold and they quite often get thrown away when Halloween is over. Some people put fake cobwebs outside their houses and they might trap birds.

Here are some of the ways I tried to help the planet at Halloween.

Pumpkins
Sometimes we grow our own pumpkin in our garden but we didn’t manage to this year so we used squashes to carve because we could get them in our organic veg box from Riverford and because squashes usually taste a bit nicer than shop-bought pumpkins for carving. We used crown prince squashes and an ornamental squash that came in our veg box.

To make them extra spooky we used scrap wood and scrap fabric to turn them into ghosts!

We scraped out as much of the pumpkin as possible and we used the middle bit to make pumpkin bread and pumpkin soup. We had some of the pumpkin soup for tea and we put the rest in the freezer. We roasted the seeds with olive oil, salt and paprika.

After Halloween we put the pumpkin skins on our compost heap.

Some people put their old pumpkins in the park because they think it helps wildlife but it doesn’t! Pumpkin can make hedgehogs poorly and mouldy pumpkin isn’t good for any animals. It can take ages to decompose and when it does decompose it can mess up the balance of nutrients in the soil and make the wrong kind of plants grow there.

The best thing to do with pumpkins is to try and cook and eat as much as possible and then compost the rest.

Decorations
We made our own Halloween decorations out of scrap materials.

We made ghosts out of golf balls which we found in the stream in our local park wrapped in scraps of plastic bags.

We made lanterns using old jam jars and tissue paper that came as packaging.

Treats
When we chose treats to give to trick or treaters we tried to avoid sweets that were wrapped in lots of plastic. We made sure we chose Fairtrade chocolate. Fairtrade is important because it means the people who grow the food get paid a fair price so they can make enough money in a sustainable way.

Costumes
We reused our Halloween costumes from last year which were home made using organic cotton to make them as sustainable as possible.

We dressed up as bats because we love bats!

I hope you had a good Halloween!

Twycross Zoo Young Conservationist-in-Chief

I won a competition to be a Twycross Zoo Young Conservationist-in-Chief!

Twycross Zoo is a zoo near where I live. It’s got lots of endangered animals there like Amur leopards, gibbons, snow leopards and lemurs. It’s the only zoo in the UK that has all four types of great ape: gorillas, orang utans, chimpanzees and bonobos.

When I visited Twycross Zoo before I felt sad about how many of the animals there were endangered and I wrote an article about it.

Twycross Zoo works to help endangered animals by looking after them and breeding them until it’s safe for them to be released back into the wild. They also tell people about the problems for endangered animals and how they can help and they give money to help endangered animals in the wild. They also try to help by being environmentally friendly. For example, they only use foods with sustainable palm oil in their cafe, the cuddly toys in their shop are made from recycled plastic bottles, some of the rooms have lights with motion sensors to save electricity and most of the rubbish in their bins is recycled.

When I found out I had won the competition I felt really excited and proud. The prize was to have a special day out at the zoo with my brothers where they showed us around and talked to us about the animals and about helping wildlife and the planet, especially the rainforests.

There were five Young Conservationist-in-Chiefs altogether. At the start of the day we met the boss of Twycross Zoo, Dr Sharon Redrobe OBE, and she gave me a certificate.

We also met Finn, one of Twycross Zoo’s Discovery and Learning Rangers. He knew loads and loads about all the animals at Twycross Zoo.

First we went to see the orang utans, then the gibbons. The gibbons made loads of noise! They went “Woooooo-oooooo!” Then we went to see the chimpanzees. We met the chimpanzees’ keeper and learnt loads about them and we learnt all their names. I really liked William because he was cute and cheeky and he likes to pull faces at people! After the chimpanzees we went to see the gorillas. The big boss gorilla is called a silverback. The two youngest gorillas were eight and five, which is the same age as me and my brothers!

Next I got to feed the meerkats! There were meerkats running all around my feet! First they ate the easy to find food, then one of them found the food I’d thrown off to the left to make it harder for them to find and started to eat that.

After lunch we made some toys for the gibbons. We put some hay in some toilet rolls, then we hid sweet potato in the middle then put some more hay in until it was full. Then we put the toys into a bag that one of the keepers was holding. Then the keeper put it on the ceiling of the gibbons’ enclosures and the gibbons had to put their hands through to try and get the sweet potato out.

It’s important for the animals to have toys and challenges to stop them getting bored. I thought the gibbons were lovely. I like the way the swing around everywhere. I think it’s sad that they’re endangered and they’re losing their habitat in the wild.

After that, we had a talk about biodiversity in the rainforest and how we can help protect the planet, especially the rainforests. Lots of the endangered animals in the zoo come from rainforests but they are getting chopped down and the animals are losing their habitats. Rainforests are important because they produce lots of oxygen and give homes to loads of animals, even some which haven’t been discovered yet! Rainforests are being chopped down to clear space for monocrops like oil palm and grazing cows. The wood is getting used for things like paper and timber. We can help by only buying food and other things with sustainable or no palm oil, eating less meat and making sure paper is recycled or has an FSC logo which means it was produced sustainably. Wood needs to have an FSC logo too. We can also help by buying food with the Fairtrade logo to make sure people get paid a fair price for growing crops sustainably. Climate change is making more and more forest fires happen so we can help by reducing our carbon footprint, for example by trying to use less electricity and trying to use the car less if you can.

Next we had a walk around the zoo with Finn and he told us about all the animals. I was given a chimpanzee adoption for a present and I decided to adopt William!

My Young Conservationist-in-Chief visit to Twycross Zoo was incredible. I loved it all! It made me feel like I want to help wildlife and the planet EVEN more!

Big Canopy Campout

This September we took part in the Big Canopy Campout.

The Big Canopy Campout is an event for tree climbers and everyone who loves forests to celebrate trees and forests and raise money to help them.

You spend the night camping out in or around trees. People around the world join in and lots of people camp high up in trees. We camped under the canopy of our living willow den in our garden.

Every year the Big Canopy Campout raises money for a different organisation to do with protecting trees and forests. This year it raised money for SËRA Foundation (Fundación SËRA), which was started by young Forest Defenders from the indigenous Siekoya Remolino community who live in the rainforest in Ecuador. They’re trying protect their community and the area where they live from deforestation. One of the things they want to do is start a school to teach ancestral knowledge as well as modern skills.

One of the ways they’re raising money is by selling jewellery made by members of the Siekoya Remolino community. We chose a necklace each. We’ve hung them up in our bedroom to remind us to do everything we can to help protect the rainforests. The necklaces also came with postcards and stories drawn by members of the community.

I enjoyed our Big Canopy Campout. It was fun and I especially enjoyed having a campfire. The only problem was that there were loads of wasps flying around the willow den all night and especially in the morning!

Here’s a video of our Big Canopy Campout:

You can donate to SËRA Foundation here: https://www.gofundme.com/f/siekopai-indigenous-amazonian-youth-foundation

Thank you!

More Deposit Return Scheme Campaigning

Last week we went litter picking and we found 86 drinks bottles and cans! We found even more broken bits of glass from drinks bottles that had been smashed.

We used the bottles and cans to write a message: DEPOSIT RETURN NOW!

I think a Deposit Return Scheme is really, really important because it would mean less plastic and other rubbish ending up in the environment and help make sure it would get recycled instead.

You can write to your MP about a Deposit Return Scheme here: https://www.sas.org.uk/depositreturnscheme/

There’s a petition to sign here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/582473

Deposit Return Scheme

I’ve been campaigning for a Deposit Return Scheme to be introduced for drinks containers.

A Deposit Return Scheme would mean that people would have to pay a little bit extra when they buy drinks in containers like bottles, cans or cartons and when they take them for recycling they would get the extra money back. This would be good because it would encourage people to recycle more. At the moment lots of bottles and other containers go into landfill when they could be recycled and lots of them are dropped as litter! When I go litter picking I find lots of drinks containers and I can prove it with this picture!

To make as big a difference as possible, a Deposit Return Scheme needs to be all inclusive, which means it would be for drinks containers of all different sizes and lots of different materials like plastic, glass and metal.

I’ve written a letter to my MP Andrew Mitchell asking him to support an all inclusive Deposit Return Scheme and make sure it happens as soon possible so less rubbish will be thrown into landfill, dropped as litter and end up in the sea when it can be recycled instead.

If you want to help campaign for an all-inclusive Deposit Return Scheme you can write an email to your MP here: https://www.sas.org.uk/depositreturnscheme/

You can sign a petition calling for a Deposit Return Scheme here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/582473.

Thank you!