We find out about the incredible natural world on our doorstep
On 9 June, Wild Kingston will be coming to the Rose Theatre, introducing us to the wildlife around us. We find out more from Elliot Newton, co-founder of Citizen Zoo, which has initiated the project…
What can people expect at the event?
Wild Kingston will be an inspirational and educational event full of energy and passion, introducing people to the incredible wildlife that lives around us though is so rarely recognised or acknowledged. It will be a celebration of our natural heritage and the communities and groups that work to protect and enhance it.
We are thrilled to have confirmed a fantastic line-up of speakers, including BBC wildlife presenter and entomologist George Mcgavin, David Lindo ‘The Urban Birder’ and author who has brought London’s birds to our TV screens and Derek Gow, who in our opinion is one of the most forward thinking and proactive conservationists in the UK who will be helping us to bring back water voles to our local river through a community-led project.
We will also be premiering a film that local man Tom Hooker, a BBC wildlife camera man who has worked on productions like Blue Planet 2, has made showcasing the Hogsmill’s wildlife and narrated by Griff Rhys Jones.
It will also be an opportunity to meet all the conservation groups that are working in Kingston, and explore ways that you get involved.
How can the community get involved?
There are so many ways, from volunteering, wildlife gardening, taking more notice of wildlife while you are walking around and telling your friends or engaging with some really important citizen science projects.
What do you think will surprise people the most about the wildlife where we live?
Kingston is absolutely full of incredible wildlife spectacles that people rarely see, from the electric flash of the enigmatic kingfisher flying upstream, the astonishing 3000 mile journey of the critically endangered European eels that live in our river or watching a pair of male stag beetles locked in battle after spending up to seven years living as a grub in dead wood. We want to show people this incredible world which is happening around our doorsteps.
Tell us more about Citizen Zoo…
Citizen Zoo is an organisation that fundamentally believe that with the right support, motivation and guidance that anyone can be a conservationist. We want to inspire people and ignite their passion and intrigue about the natural world, and empower people to engage with proactive conservation work.
What is your background and how do you become involved in this area?
I was born in Kingston, and as a child I explored our greener and wilder areas – this forged my passion for the natural world. As I got older my passion only grew until I could no longer ignore it. I then wanted to improve and help the local conservation of Kingston natural heritage and founded the Kingston Biodiversity Network. While working as an ambulance-man I studied a long distance postgraduate diploma in ecology at Edinburgh University and then did a masters in conservation science at Imperial. Since then I have worked managing local nature conservation and wildlife education projects, which included the restoration of the Berrylands Nature Reserve and now lead the conservation work for Citizen Zoo.
What is your ultimate goal for the natural environment in Kingston?
I truly believe that Kingston can lead the way in community led conservation projects within an suburban setting, I want Kingston be a demonstration of best practice which then be replicated across London and further afield.