Standing up for badgers in London, a black and white issue
Having trouble seeing the slideshow? Click here.
When I put my brand new white trousers on this morning and I noticed how well they looked with my black and white IFAW T-shirt, I realised that today was going to be a good day. Today was the day I would become a badger.
Not in a Kafkaesque way, but in a far more real way than that. Today I was going to join thousands of other badgers, and march through London to protest against the Government in England that wants to kill most of us (up to 70% of us, they say, but how are they going to know when to stop, if they don't know how many of us there are?)
No, I did not wake up then. That was real. Today, thousands of Britons have dressed in black and white, have put badger masks on, and have marched to protest against the irrational cull, which could theoretically start today. London Against The Cull decided to organise this event, titled the National March Against the Badger Cull, and a good job they did, because it was peaceful, respectful, compassionate and full of people with very healthy common sense.
It was truly national, since coaches brought people from all over England to London, dressed as badgers ready to show the Government how much they oppose this cull, which although intended as a solution to the real problem of bovine TB, the chances are that it will make it worse - and many independent scientists think so too - or at the very least it will not help that much - even the Government’s own scientists think that it may only reduce bovine TB by 16%.
We had some celebrity badgers with us for the march - Brian May, Bill Oddie, Virginia McKenna...we had enchanting artful badgers dancing around too, and, of course, we had all sorts of animal protection groups there, because in this subject, we are all united (animal rights, animal welfare, local, national, international...you name it).
The day began with a delegation of 50 or so representatives of the main groups going to Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) to let them know how many people had signed the e-petition against the cull (more than 234,000 signatures so far, and counting). Then the delegation returned to Millbank, the starting point of the march, where some speeches set the tone. We then all moved towards Parliament Square, and finally the event ended with the badgers scattered all over London, to the delight of onlookers, while our own IFAW UK Director Robbie Marsland joined Brian May and others to hand over the signatures at 10 Downing Street.
For me, though, the best bit of the march was seeing our friends the fox, hare, stag and a few cattle joining us, with their masks and their placards marching and shouting like the rest of us - as any other decent creature of the land would do.
And this is just the beginning. Now that we have all returned home we need to write to our MPs so they vote against the cull in the next vote this Wednesday (June 5), and any other vote that may come along – because we will never give up and abandon our friends in peril, the very real flesh and blood badgers.
It was good to be a badger today.
The campaign continues - please sign the e-petition opposing the cull if you have not already done so and encourage your family and friends to do the same. Also, please contact your MP before this Wednesday's debate in Parliament and urge them to vote against the cull.