The 5th Birmingham Wildlife Festival
The 5th Birmingham Wildlife Festival took place in the heart of Birmingham City centre on Saturday 16th June. The event has quickly established itself as one of the leading wildlife events in the UK that attracts a wide range of animal charities from local groups to international NGO’s
This year's event was at the historic Victoria Square - a busy pedestrian area linking the Bull Ring and Brindleyplace, flanked by the town hall and decorated with a marble statue of Queen Victoria. This is a busy place!
The gazebo’s and tables were all standing ready for the day whilst a lorry was being converted into a solar-powered stage - and with the vegan only food stalls serving breakfast baps with coffee - this was going to be a good day!
Around 50 local wildlife groups and charities - including Badger Trust, Born Free Foundation, League Against Cruel Sports were joined by local groups like West Midland Badger group, West Midlands and Three Counties HSA, Animal Equality, Animal Justice Project, Gloucester Badger Office, HIT Hunt Investigation Team, Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife Trust and us - Dr Brian May’s Save Me Trust.
The main stage was busy throughout the day with a mix of music and speakers. It kicked off with the Bluesy Brock Band with an acoustic set of self-penned badger songs with the odd Bob Dylan song in the mix. Next up came Georgia Locock, a brilliant young conservationist and animal welfare campaigner. Georgia speaks with the optimism of youth and a maturity and understanding well beyond her years.
Emma Thomson was joined by a dancing badger on stage to update the growing crowd on the work being done locally for wildlife by the Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife Trust. They hold hundreds of wildlife events every year - many are family friendly and they are doing some good work locally.
Tanglemist made the first of two appearances for the day, performing a number of self-penned songs with a strong animal welfare theme. Julia’s voice has a haunting quality and she is well supported by Andi on guitar. They are colourful and bright and great fun.
Our Hedgehog Officer, Jess Smith was at the festival selling her own design range of wildlife merchandise. You can order from Jess at Silver Pasta here.
Next up was our own Nigel, who talked about the Hunts, stunts and lies and called out some of the lame claims that are made by hunters in an attempt to justify their bloodlust. Nigel went on to confirm that Save Me will never accept killing badgers as a solution to Bovine TB - He said it is a cattle disease and that the solution will be found in the herd NOT the clan. He then gave an insight into Save Me’s groundbreaking project on an intensive dairy farm that had been under restriction for seven years but is now Officially TB free - and no badgers were killed!
Before he went he made a passionate attack on Scottish Natural Heritage who have licensed a cull of Ravens in an area of Perthshire that contains three grouse shooting moors. Save Me believe this is madness as Raven populations are only just recovering from years of persecution and now they are being killed just to see what - if anything - might happen to improve the moors for nesting wading birds. Another case of killing first and it has to be stopped.
Lynne Sawyer from Gloucester Badger office was next up to speak about the work they are doing all year round in Gloucestershire. They train volunteers to sett survey, monitor and protect the setts in advance of and during the badger culls. Lynne is a committed full-time volunteer with bags of experience. If you want to help badgers make sure you get on one of her training days soon. You can find the details on GBO’s facebook page.
Next up came the Sam Robinson Band - the first time the writer had heard of them but definitely a great sound that we really enjoyed. We have a short video for you to enjoy here
Bev from HIT - Hunt Investigation Team spoke next. They specialise in covert operations and were key in exposing the Herefordshire Hunt staff who were feeding live fox cubs to the hounds. Bev spoke candidly on the toll of gathering and watching hours of video of this cruelty and carnage inflicted on native wildlife has on those who dedicate themselves to expose hunts cruelty.
The next speaker was completely different. Jane Smith is deputy leader of the Animal Welfare Party. Jane spoke with knowledge and passion for the key animal welfare issues that should be engaging all of our MP’s. It was hard to disagree with anything she said as she delivered detailed information about the AWP’s policies and why they were needed.
Two members of British folk legends Fairport Convention - Ric Sanders & Vo Fletcher were next on stage. The violin and guitar combination played a wide range of songs from traditional folk and blues through the Rolling Stones to Bob Dylan. They really got the audience buzzing and even duetting with them on some of the songs. We saw the first dancers of the day and lots of toe-tappers - great fun and quality musicians.
Dominic Dyer CEO of Badger Trust and British Wildlife Advocate for Born Free Foundation was next up. Dominic’s talk was eagerly anticipated by the crowd and he delivered a rousing speech covering a wide range of issues from the ivory trade to the badger culls.
The final speaker was Emma from Three Counties Hunt Saboteurs whose talk was engaging and interesting as she covered the wide range of activities the 3C’s undertake to save animals lives. Whilst Emma was speaking the Birmingham Furs arrived - this eclectic group of people in animal-based fantasy character costumes has raised thousands of pounds for charities including local wildlife rescue Vale Wildlife. They are fun and colourful and do some amazing work for animal charities.
The day came to a close with the second set from Tanglemist whose song about a captive whale was very moving before they closed with a rousing almost rock based anthem called Save our Badgers - stop the cull Perfect ending to a great day!
It was great to meet so many friends and new supporters on the stand - thank you for helping us to Give wildlife a voice and our thanks to the festival organisers Joanne and Nigel Tolley for all your hard work. Can't wait to do it all again next year!