The devastating loss of wildlife and their habitats was highlighted by campaigner and author Dawn Lawrence at the October meeting of Crewkerne & District U3A. Dawn spoke about the work of the Born Free Foundation, started in 1984 by actors Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers that campaigns to keep wildlife in the wild and said: “Zoos should be a haven of protection but sadly, some are being investigated because their care of animals is falling well below standard.” Major factors on the loss of wildlife habitats were partly due to the ever growing demand for soaps and shampoos and the extensive use of pal-m oil in their manufacture. Dawn said: “Every 25 seconds an area of rain-forest, the size of a football pitch, makes way for more plantations of palm trees, with the result that animals such as the orang utan, birds and insects is constantly shrinking. Other factors are the killing of animals for traditional remedies, poaching, the use of pesticides, discarded plastics which are choking the oceans, the exotic pet trade and trophy hunting.”
Dawn shared the shocking news with U3A members that lions are already extinct in 25 countries and there are only 4,000 tigers left in India. In the UK, honey bees have become an endangered species with lawns being cut too short and many other bee habitats being concreted over for parking spaces. Dawn said: “It takes 550 bees to visit two million flowers to make one pound of honey.” Hedgehogs were also mentioned as being endangered with the numbers halved in the last 20 years. Before finishing her talk at the George Reynolds Centre, Dawn read poems from her book about animals, 2 Steps Behind. All proceeds from the sale of her books goes to the Born Free Foundation.