A Rangers Life in Queen Elizabeth Country Park
Speaker: Steve Peach
Date: 30th April
Steve gave us a very well-illustrated and informative talk about his exciting life as a Ranger in Queen Elizabeth Country Park. His duties as a Ranger include being a wildlife guardian, an interpreter and manager of the countryside, an educator, researcher and wildlife presenter and an enforcer of wildlife laws.
He pointed out that the landscape is not natural and has been modified by man over the millennia. Habitats include chalk grassland (50/60 species per sq.m), wetland, woodland and forest, all of which have to be managed and conserved.
His research involves catching reptiles and small mammals in traps and studying their migratory habits among other things. He has corrugated iron painted black under which snakes and slow worms hide. Micro transmitters are fixed on snakes to study their movements and breeding/hibernation sites. He has yet to discover if the snakes are territorial.
He told us the common lizard is a particular favourite of his. The more species there are the healthier the environment. Animal droppings are particularly loved by Rangers as it can tell a huge amount about what going on. Badgers have dung pits and reveal their territories.
Children are still interested in wildlife and their horizons have been widened globally by television. They still love pond dipping and nature tables though. Steve arranges guided walks and tractor/trailer rides in the forest. Christmas in the Park is special with a visit from Father Christmas.
Steve told us that we have no sense of bio-security in this country and as we have no large mammals to make the environment it must be maintained by man. The Dutch are better than us at solving environmental problems. We choose to chop down trees to make downland which if not grazed revert to woodland after becoming scrub first.
The wood is used by volunteers to make wooden toys for sale at events and play areas are made of wood to connect children to the countryside. The park has very strong volunteer cultures that patrol the paths, clear litter which harms the animals and check on safety.
Steve finished off his talk by referring to Rangers worldwide and the dangers they face doing difficult jobs, some even get killed. Queen Elisibeth Country Park has a partnership with Uganda Rangers and swap Rangers from time to time, schools in Liss are also twinned with Ugandan schools, they all learn from each other.
Altogether a wide ranging and fascinating insight into a Rangers world.