Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Cats, not cats and selfies

This morning I gave a talk on cat conservation for my friend Jerry Kinsley's students at Easton College. I chortled, driving there, to see this on the crazy golf course just outside the college gate.

This is not, in fact, the only tiger I've seen in Norfolk this year. In the summer I had a fascinating meeting with Mike Woolham, animal manager at Banham Zoo, about the zoo's commitment to engagement and education. I took the opportunity to get friendly with their Amur tigers, who competed to out-selfie the Highland Wildlife Park's Amur tigers in the spring.

Highland Wildlife Park Amur tiger selfie

Banham Zoo Amur tiger selfie

On the same day I pushed the boundaries of cat selfies, achieving them (with mixed success) with Southern African cheetah, Sri Lankan leopard, ocelot, snow leopard and Pallas's cat.

I'm ashamed not to have written up the many things Mike generously shared with me that day. I have been meaning to ever since but have simply not had time. Yesterday in the Norfolk Wildlife Trust office my very good friend Rebecca, head of PR and communications at NWT, said that she'd wondered why I hadn't written more about cats during the summer and autumn. Then she'd realised that it was she who was to blame.

She's not personally to blame, of course, but there is much truth in what she says. Most of my time in the UK this year has been devoted to helping produce a publication celebrating 90 years of Norfolk Wildlife Trust, which is now on sale.

The rest has been spent working on a series of short films about Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Living Landscape projects, which has been airing over the past six weeks on Mustard TV. The last episode, on the Cley to Salthouse Living Landscape project, will go out tomorrow night.

So yes, in a way, Rebecca is responsible for my not writing nearly as much about cats as I had planned (though I have described every one of the 164 cats I have seen in the wild). As 2015 ends, she and I have embarked on an ambitious project for NWT's coming anniversary year, so it's unlikely I shall have much more time for cats. I shall write up what I learned at Banham, as Mike was kind enough to meet me and share his experience and knowledge, and I hope one or two other ideas will make it to my blog.

For now I'm writing an article for the EDP Norfolk Magazine and tomorrow I shall be at Mustard TV, for the last film in our series, and to talk about Jasper the Iberian lynx I saw last week in Spain.

It's a funny old life, but a good one. And my work and journeys this year, with cats and without them, and with your company and support, have been an honour and a delight.


  1. Shame on you, Rebecca? Thank you Rebecca? I've just seen something like 1200 birds in South America, and you make me want to come visit Norfolk. It's great to see you in action.

    1. Let's go with the latter! I *did* help persuade him to get a phone with a camera, which has led to the awesome selfies :-)

  2. Thanks Rich. Congratulations on your own amazing year, among many amazing years in your life. Always welcome at mine when you're coming to Norfolk.