I was walking near my home recently, suffering another dull grey day in London when a bright intense flash of colours shot infront of my face! Now, dear reader this was not the result of some exotic cocktail of over the counter medications, or the result of too many late nights, it was in fact a group of 20 Parrots flying past.
Now I must confess I have seen these birds before locally and thought it a little odd, but other things distracted me and it slipped into the recesses of my mind. Now, for some reason the other day, I decided to find out where they came from.
Firstly I should tell you they are apparently blue crowned parakeets. Not only that, they and a couple of other non native parrots have made their homes in the capital after having escaped from captivity, one pair were also contributed by Jimi Hendrix who thought they would be “trippy”. It seems that a large number of birds can adapt to our climate and that the English love of a well stocked bird feeder or three in the back garden, makes London a great home for these birds.
I then got sidetracked by an article telling us of a suggestion by several conservationist groups that open season should be declared on these birds, as they are depriving indigenous birds of both food and habitat. They were compared to the scourge of the grey squirrel, which has almost completely assimilated our poor red squirrel and would now be impossible to remove. They called for us to act now while there is still time, and there was much bleating and ringing of hands about the fate of the nightingale.
Well I must at this stage confess something, I don’t give a fig about the nightingale or the red squirrel. In fact I am all for the introduction of more colourful or adaptable species, surely it’s evolution in action? Foxes have adapted wonderfully to the urban environment, and despite the pro hunt lobby claiming the population is out of control, I never saw the local hound pack running through the streets of south east London before the ban, so doubt they would make much dent in the population. I also doubt they would manage to get the particular little git, that gets into my bins on a regular basis and spreads rubbish all over my drive.
Anyway I digress, my point was this, if the squirrel and the parrot can survive hear in our metropolis, what other animals could we introduce to liven up the scenery?
Based on the success of the foxes at scavenging perhaps we could start with a few dozen jackals, or we could upgrade to lions who apparently do much more scavenging than actual hunting? While great fun and certainly adding to the scenery of London, perhaps it might add a bit too much excitement to the walk home of an evening.
So what animals might actually be acceptable to improve London without adding to the danger? Birds are obviously easy but lets get some that are a bit more exciting, perhaps a golden eagle or two to hunt those damn foxes? How about some crocodiles to add some excitement to the serpentine? But why stop there, imagine the look of shock on a hoodies face if while cycling away from his latest crime spree he was caught and leapt upon by a cheetah! Obviously they might attack other regular cyclists, but I am certain that the cheetah is a discerning creature and the high visibility clothing would probably send a message that they were poisonous from their colour scheme. I feel elephants might offer a suitable form of transport, Imagine a parking inspector trying to ticket (let alone clamp) one? And the comparative speed would hardly be an issue in London’s pedestrian paced traffic.
All in all, we could do with some livening up in this city and perhaps a more exotic fauna would help achieve this!
by Scott Pattenden