The real world plight of some storybook animals
The popular character Ratty from Kenneth Grahame’s “Wind
and the Willows” is a Water Vole. This species is fighting for
its very existence. It has its traditional predators as well as of the
exotic introduced American Mink. In addition, it’s fighting the
devastating affects of habitat destruction. In the last decade, their
numbers have decreased by 90%! All hope is not lost. The Mammals Trust
UK is reintroducing captive bred Water Voles into their natural riverside
areas around London including one spot near Heathrow Airport that is
naturally protected from the Mink.
Herdwick Sheep were a favorite of Beatrix Potter. Even in her time,
she was concerned about their preservation. She donated a number of farms
to the national trust with the stipulation that they be maintained with
The Herdwick breed goes back to the 12th Century and is widely regarded
as the hardiest of all of Britain’s sheep breeds due to their ability
to survive in England’s highest and roughest terrain.