If you live in Britain it can’t have escaped your attention that on Thursday the Scots vote on whether to stay part of the Union, or go it alone. There’s been a lot written about the implications of a Yes vote, but, til now, one potential consequence has been ignored: what will it mean for the British Animal Challenge?
Scotland contains some of the wildest areas of Britain, including the Highlands and remote islands. It’s home to several species that are not found elsewhere in Britain, and is the best place to see even more. So which species will disappear from my list?
Unsurprisingly, the Scottish Wildcat will be crossed off. I love cats of all sorts, but, if I’m honest, I wouldn’t be too disappointed about this. They are very rare and very secretive, making them extremely hard to see. They also look permanently grumpy, so I’m a bit scared of them.
The Cairngorms are the only place in Britain where you can see Reindeer wondering free(ish) (except on Christmas Eve, when you can spot them anywhere in the country, if you’re lucky and you’ve been good).
Highland ponies will also need to come off the list. On a smaller scale, the Orkney Vole will also no longer count as British.
Then there are a whole host of creatures where, although they also live elsewhere in the UK, Scotland is the best place to try and see them. This includes Mountain Hares, Pine Martens, and a lot of different types of whales that can (with luck) be seen from ferries to the remoter islands. While Scottish independence wouldn’t be an excuse to remove them from the list, my task will get trickier.
Conversely, there are lots of animals who live in England and / or Wales who can’t be found in the chillier climate of Scotland – dormice, harvest mice, rare reptiles and many types of bats for example.
So, a Yes vote will make my list shorter. Despite that, I hope our Scottish Brethren choose to stay part of Britain. Please don’t abandon us! (Or at least let me set up a small satellite area of Scotland here in southern England, so I can escape the coalition government as well!)