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Animal life in lockdown

I should have been in Ternopil, Ukraine in April, training the police in an eleventh city, as part of our programme to create safer communities in Ukraine. The COVID-19 lockdown stopped that progress. Or it would have stopped it if we hadn’t adapted quickly.

I knew we had to move to online training and develop our educational materials. We would work around the lockdown – not be blocked by it.

Over coming weeks, you’ll hear more about this online training – we can’t abandon the animals that are sadly still being abused.

But this blog isn’t about our innovative Ukraine project. It’s about some of the animals I’ve met whilst adjusting to ‘life in lockdown’.

A stunning stag

One morning, as I worked on the Online Global Rally for Animals, I saw a red stag and three does appear in the garden.

I’ll admit, I stopped working.

It was stunning to watch him graze on the hedges, whilst keeping a watchful eye for any potential predators. He kept returning after that, sometimes with his family and sometimes on his own.

An unhurried hare

As we all know, exercise was allowed during lockdown and my walking route took me through woodland.

One day, I was strolling and thinking (probably project planning). I looked up to see a hare running in my direction… towards and not away!

I stopped, spellbound and silent, to watch him (and take a quick photo, of course). He ran towards me, sat quietly for a while, and then hopped away.

A very special moment.

Creeping cattle

There were also some wonderful birds on my lockdown walks, from goldfinches to stonechats, but my strangest ‘animal’ moment was the night of a full moon – when I woke to hear what sounded like a riot in my garden and a nearby field.

Peering out of the window, I saw large bodies moving in single file through the garden, in a way that made me think of Colonel Hathi’s Elephant March from Jungle Book.

However, instead of a family of pachyderms, I witnessed the secret midnight excursion of a herd of cattle. I have no idea why they were out, or why cattle wander about in the middle of the night.

I wondered if it was a dream until the next morning when the evidence of many sets of hoof prints and cow pats, in a line from path to a hole in the hedge, proved that it had really happened.

Strange, these animals.

We will always remember these past weeks. For me, as usual, it is the animals that make it so memorable.

Mark Randell, Campaign Manager

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