Five minutes with... Chris Packham
Vice-President of the RSPCA
As a long-standing presenter of the BBC’s Springwatch, Chris is deeply passionate about protecting and respecting our wildlife. We spoke to him about his lifelong affinity with nature, the problems facing wild animals today and how we can all fight back against abuse of our countryside.
Q. When did your love of the natural world begin?
A. It’s before I can remember, really. I’ve felt close to the animals in my garden – whether it’s snails, woodlice or ladybirds – from a very young age. It’s been the one enduring thing in my life.
Q. Do you have a favourite wild animal?
A. I don’t think I’ve got a favourite – but recently I’ve been feeding some lovely fox cubs, trying to beef them up a bit because they were looking a bit scrawny. For me, the fox is the most beautiful mammal and I’m proud to share my garden with them.
Q. Why is it important to preserve the UK’s wildlife?
A. Not only are so many wild animals beautiful, we’re also dependent on them. Without them, we’d be in massive trouble.
Q. Have you seen any wildlife decline in your lifetime?
A. Butterflies are declining, moths are declining, beetles are declining. There are enormous drops in the insect population in particular, which is catastrophic because they are a key part of the food chain.
Q. What is The People’s Walk for Wildlife in September and why did you start it?
A. It’s about uniting people to stand up for our wildlife. Right now, we’re abusing the health of our landscape. On 22nd September this year, I’m hoping over 100,000 people will join me in walking through Central London to show we can make progress if we work together.
Q. What impact does litter have on our wildlife?
A. It harms them. Hedgehogs get tangled in plastic and birds get wrapped in rubbish on the beach. It starts to break down when washed into rivers and seas, which causes all sorts of problems because animals can go on to eat it.
Q. What are your thoughts on the RSPCA’s work?
A. I’m really, really lucky to be a part of it. The RSPCA has this enormous legacy and commitment to animal welfare – and it’s staffed by people who see their jobs as a vocation. We should cherish it, nurture it and continue to support it wherever we can.