Our Mission Statement
Our Mission Statement
The need for wildlife rescue services in urban environments is high. Living in close proximity to humans makes wild animals vulnerable in numerous ways - for example, to road traffic accidents, predation or injury by domestic cats and dogs, entrapment in buildings, ingestion or entanglement in human litter, injury through routine gardening work, and deliberate or inadvertent poisoning. For this reason, the lack of wildlife rescue centres serving the city of London is extremely unfortunate. Members of the public frequently encounter wild animals that are injured, orphaned or distressed, and find that there are few organisations to turn to for help.
Conventional wisdom often dictates that, in lieu of a dedicated rescue centre, wildlife casualties can be taken to a local veterinary practice, but this, too, is an imperfect solution. The care of wild species is a specialist area of veterinary medicine, and the majority of veterinary practices do not specialise in wildlife. They may lack the expertise and facilities for both immediate treatment and long-term rehabilitation and release, and they are for-profit businesses that do not always have funds, nor staff, to dedicate to rescue work, which is typically a charitable venture. This is not always the case, but in London it is a recurrent issue.
In areas with better coverage by wildlife rescue centres, veterinary practices may have local rescue contacts who can regularly collect wild animals that have been surrendered by the public. In London, where no such contacts exist due to a scarcity of rescue organisations, vets, like the public, also often find they have nowhere to turn when they suddenly find themselves responsible for wildlife.
This often leads to many wild animals that could be successfully treated and rehabilitated being unnecessarily euthanised, due to a lack of alternative options.
This can be a frustrating and distressing dilemma for veterinary staff, just as it is for the public when they cannot find suitable help for wildlife casualties.
The Greenwich Wildlife Network was born of the quandary described above, specifically for the Greenwich, Bexley and South East area of London, where wildlife rescue resources are particularly insufficient. In January of 2022, the organisation was granted charity status.
The Greenwich Wildlife Network started out as a small community group in 2018, when residents of Greenwich and Bexley with a like-minded concern for animal welfare decided to come together to get ailing wildlife to a place of safety. This would be achieved through members of the group taking on a variety of roles, including; volunteer field rescuers, who would capture/contain wild animals where it was not possible for the public to do so; transport volunteers, who would drive long distances to take animals to rescue centres outside of London; and wildlife rehabilitators, able to stabilise wildlife and provide care for whatever period necessary, with animals often being transferred to the aforementioned rescue centres at a later date, whenever such placements can be secured.
A wider community also plays an invaluable role in the Network’s activities, providing support by donating fuel money for the frequent animal transports, or contributing towards supplies such as traps and nets for capture, incubators, food, feeding equipment, cages, hand-rearing formula for various species, and so on.
The Greenwich Wildlife Network ‘model’ is founded on the idea of the community working together to serve the community, and its local flora and fauna. In addition to being reliant on the good-will of South East London residents, however, the support of rescue centres outside of London has also been essential to the Greenwich Wildlife Network achieving its goals.
Via the Network, these wildlife rescue centres have agreed to accept regular transports of animals from the Greenwich/South East London area, either for the entirety of their treatment and rehabilitation, or at the release stage, which requires specialist processes and enclosures.
In the latter instance, our volunteer wildlife rehabilitators will have cared for the animals until they have reached the point that they are ready to return to the wild.
By working in conjunction with these organisations, the Network acts as an intermediary between the public and rescue centres which are outside of London, whose help would not be typically sought by London residents due to considerable geographical distance.
Public awareness about the organisation and the service it provides has been largely generated via social media, through a Facebook group created in 2018. This group has become the focal point for much of the Network’s activity - it is often how members of the public alert volunteers to wildlife in distress locally, and how new volunteers are recruited.
Since 2018, membership has grown steadily, and the Facebook group reached three thousand members in 2021. Having this public platform has allowed the Network to also partake in advocacy work and raise awareness about issues relating to wildlife and animal welfare. Social media campaigns launched via the group have resulted in numerous successes, including the removal of anti-bird netting in SE18 that was entangling and killing pigeons in a manner breaching the Animal Welfare Act, and the cancellation of several planned culls of foxes and pigeons locally, with non-lethal, humane methods of deterrence explored instead. Campaigns are often launched in conjunction with other animal rights and animal welfare organisations.
In 2020, we also joined forces with a local litter-picking group called the Woolwich Arsenal 5K Clean Up to restore two neglected and polluted lakes in Woolwich, SE18, where fish were dying en-masse. Subsequently, our two groups share mutual volunteers, as litter poses a massive threat to wildlife; its removal and proper disposal actively prevents wildlife casualties.
Collaborating with other community groups is key to the Network’s philosophy and origins as a community-led group, and further collaborations that benefit the local area will be explored in future.
Social media is also used as a tool to alert the public and local community about common ways in which wildlife may be injured - for example, through the indiscriminate use of poison, cutting back trees and hedges in the nesting season, and about humane, non-lethal alternatives to pest control.
Although the Network’s primary focus is wild rather than domestic animals due to the gap that exists in wildlife rescue services in South East London, there is no animal that the group will not assist with, should the need arise, if, for example, other local domestic rescues are not able to provide immediate help.
Just as the Network does for wildlife, in such instances, it may act as an intermediary, removing domestic animals from high-risk situations and providing care for them until a placement at a dedicated domestic rescue centre can be secured. In particular, the charity hopes to one day be able to assist significantly in the neutering and rescue of stray and feral cats locally.
After gaining charity status in January 2022, the Greenwich Wildlife Network's priority is now the securing of premises or land where a small number of animals can be housed whilst undergoing treatment and rehabilitation.
If you can aid the Network in our search for suitable premises or land in the Greenwich or Bexley area, please get in touch.