Jack is one of our dedicated water vole volunteers and has worked as part of this thrilling community project for the last couple of years.
We caught up with Jack to talk about her experiences and what she thinks we can do to bring this charismatic species back to the Hogsmill River.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Jack Whitelegg. I currently work for a public health university in project management. I’m originally from Cambridge, however, I moved to London back in 2013 to study at Kingston University. I love nature and wildlife and have always had a fascination since I was a child. I have volunteered for a range of different conservation organisations over the years however Citizen Zoo and Elliot specifically has been a driving force to my increased passion for wildlife and community engagement for conservation.
How and why did you become involved in this exciting Water Vole rewilding project?
I became involved in the water vole conservation project when I saw the project being reported on sky news. I thought it was amazing the idea of local communities taking direct action in trying to reintroduce a species and show that conservation can be done by anyone and everyone, not just scientists. Once I turned up to the first meeting and saw how passionate and driven the group was, I wanted to be involved as much as possible.
Could you tell us a little more about your role and experiences with the project?
I currently help support the fundraising element of the project with 3 other volunteers. We have been working hard to put together a grant application and design this crowdfunding campaign. I have a background in fundraising and so it was great to translate these skills over to the project. Now that the lockdown is reducing I am looking forward to getting involved directly in some of the habitat management and spend some time on the river with the other volunteers.
Why do you think the community should be involved in such a vital project?
I think the community is key to any direct change in society from building development to environmental issues. In terms of conservation, I believe with getting the community involved, you will never have a long-lasting change in the environment as it is the people around us who cause the direct or indirect impact on the landscape. I also believe a project like this is essential for social integration and it brings all different types of people together to tackle one issue and find a newfound appreciation for their community around them.
What does the return of the water vole along the Hogsmill river mean to you?
For me, it will mean a symbolism of people power and a step towards improving our cities for wildlife and biodiversity. Since being part of the project I have learned more about the importance of the water voles to British culture and also the genuine cuteness of these animals.
Help us raise funds for this incredible project and check out our fundraising campaign below to make a donation!