Walk on the wild side
By Thomas Simpson
People and Wildlife Officer
Last week Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Youth Rangers spent some time exploring the Knepp Wildland Project. The Youth Rangers work on conservation projects in Brighton and Crawley throughout the year and the visit gave them an opportunity to see a different approach to conservation management, meet other like-minded young people, and test themselves against the elements camping out in the wilds of West Sussex.
After pitching our tents we were treated to an illustrated talk and walking safari with Penny Green, Knepp’s resident ecologist. Penny explained how the once intensively farmed land is now managed using grazing animals to drive habitat creation. Along the way we were rewarded with views of the free-roaming red deer, Tamworth pigs, and long-horned cattle all hard at work. Then a first for many of us, the sound of a turtle dove gently purring amongst the mosaic of scrub and grass created by grazing.
After playing out the role of top predators and feasting on barbequed Longhorn burgers and Tamworth sausages, the evening’s events began in good company with Ryan Greaves, Knepp Safari's campsite manager, Sussex Bat Group Events Coordinator and former Sussex Wildlife Trust Youth Ranger (to name just a few of his titles). Ryan shared his expertise and exhibited some rescued bats to the group before letting us loose with bat detectors around the hammer pond.
Despite a few leaky tents we all survived the night’s deluge and were in high spirits for our final foray into Knepp’s biodiversity; a look through our moth trap and small mammal traps… after pancakes of course. Just like us, the moths were not put off by the rain and our trap contained over 40 species, with around 250 individual moths.
Everyone involved in this trip had a fantastic time and we would like to say a huge thank you to everyone at Knepp who made it possible particularly Penny Green and Ryan Greaves.
There are plenty more opportunities for young people to get involved with the work of Sussex Wildlife Trust including our Wildlife Rangers groups for 12-16’s which will be running in Crawley, Brighton, Horley and Seven sisters throughout the summer: Find out more about Wildlife Rangers here.
Learning about bats with Ryan