More Than 40 Nature Conservation NGOs Gathered Outside the DEFRA Offices in London to Peacefully Demonstrate and Call for Government Action to Restore Nature Now
In response to the alarming declines in UK wildlife reported in the latest State of Nature report, representative from more than 40 nature conservation and environmental organisations gathered outside DEFRA’s office building in Central London on the 28th September to peacefully and passionately call for urgent Government action to tackle the woeful condition of the UK’s wildlife, landscapes and marine environment.
The organisations included Greenpeace, WWT, The Woodland Trust, WWF, Friends of the Earth, River Action, The Wildlife Trusts, Buglife, The Badger Trust and dozens more, including Wild Justice. Hen Harrier Action’s own wildlife and documentary filmmaker Paul Samuels was there to capture all the action, and he has published two films with all the day’s major speeches and interviews, on our YouTube channel. You can find Part One and Part Two here, and they are well worth watching.
Ruth Tingay's Inspirational Speech on Hen Harriers
“I haven’t prepared anything. I didn’t expect so many people to come! I’ve only got a few minutes to talk so I want to talk about birds of prey – they are my thing. Species like Golden Eagles, White-tailed Eagles, Goshawks, Red Kites, Short-eared Owls and particularly the Hen Harrier.
The Hen Harrier is probably the most persecuted raptor in the UK, mostly killed on grouse moors by gamekeepers, because they think that Hen Harriers are going to ruin their shoots for them.
In 2018 the grouse shooting industry announced that Hen Harriers were going to be welcome on grouse moors all of a sudden, and there was going to be no more killing. I’ve been keeping a record of how many Hen Harriers since 2018.
When we got to 30 illegally killed birds, I thought that the Government might say something. They didn’t say anything. When we got to 40, I thought, OK, now they’re going to say something. They didn’t.
We passed 100 a couple of weeks ago. Still nothing. No response from the Government at all. We’re currently on 110 Hen Harriers either missing in suspicious circumstances or found illegally killed on or close to grouse moors.
When I say illegally killed, these birds are poisoned, they’re shot, they’re trapped. We’ve had one that had its head pulled off while it was alive. It had its leg pulled off as well, and its body was just left on the moor to be found.
There was another one carrying a satellite tag on a harness fitted to the bird. The bird disappeared, but the satellite tag and the harness were found attached to a Crow. The only way that harness could have been taken off the Hen Harrier intact would be for the bird’s wings to be pulled off. Whether that was done when the bird was alive or dead…who knows?
The point is, all these Hen Harriers keep going missing, keep being illegally killed, and still the people in this building are doing absolutely nothing about it.
When challenged about it – and we’ve challenged Government ministers continuously – the carbon copy response we get all the time is ‘we take wildlife crime seriously in this country’.
We do – they don’t!
My message is for the people in Government and the people in this building behind us. They are probably watching us on that security camera, but I notice that they haven’t come out to see us!
We’re coming for you because we’re not going to put up with this for any longer. We are sick and tired of these birds being killed.
Thank you all for coming.”
Thank you Ruth, for your tireless work for all our raptors!
The Restore Nature Now protest rally at DEFRA was in response to the latest State of Nature Report 2023, which showed that the UK’s wildlife is continuing to decline.
- Across the UK species studied have declined on average by 19% since 1970
- Nearly one in six species are threatened with extinction from Great Britain
- 151 of the 10,008 species assessed have already become extinct since 1500
- In Northern Ireland, 12% of assessed species were at risk of extinction
Due to centuries of habitat loss, development and persecution, the UK is now one of the most nature-depleted countries on Earth.
But there are some good news stories in the report too.
Conservation interventions are delivering improvements for nature around the country, and you can read the case studies in this report.