Author: Carys Evans

Award for Wildlife!

Congratulations to The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales’ Living Seas Wales team on winning the Pembrokeshire ‘Tourism Business Innovation Award’ for their Sea Wales 7D augmented reality (AR) experience and Roadshow events.

The award was presented to The Wildlife Trust at the prestigious Pembrokeshire Tourism awards evening at Meadow House Holiday Park, Amroth. The evening was hosted by popular Radio Presenter Andrew ‘Tommo’ Thomas and celebrated the very ‘best of business’ in and around Pembrokeshire.

Gina Gavigan, Marketing and Development Manager at The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) said:

“We are absolutely delighted to have won the ‘Business Innovation’ category at the Pembrokeshire Tourism Awards for our Sea Wales experience and marine Roadshow events. Our unique (AR) experience; Sea Wales7D has raised awareness of some of the amazing marine wildlife that call Wales home and inspired thousands of local residents and visitors to Wales to care and more importantly take action for our precious wildlife. Using innovative technology and creating ‘WOW’ experiences is a great way to highlight our important conservation work and research to a wide audience. We would like to thank Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority for sponsoring the Innovation Award category.”

Sea Wales 7D is an innovative group experience which lasts approx. 6 minutes. Using the very latest in augmented reality 7D technology users step into the mobile 7D Dome to experience the unexpected! They feel like they’ve been transported to a wild Welsh coastal location. The 7D augmented reality technology allows the user to have a completely unique ‘sense of discovery’’ focusing on our Welsh coast and marine wildlife.

Realistic CGI animation, an overlay of sound, wind and water spray literally brings the experience to life as users get up close and personal to a variety of amazing marine wildlife including Bottlenose Dolphins, Puffins, Seals, Porpoise and a Thresher Shark. When with Dolphins and Thresher shark leap out of the water users get wet!

Pembrokeshire Coast National Park Authority Chairman, Cllr Paul Harries said:

“It is great to see innovative technology being used to promote the conservation of marine wildlife and habitats in protected areas such as the National Park. This campaign brings the best of Wales’ marine life alive for residents and visitors who may not otherwise have a chance to experience it and raises awareness of the positive steps they can take to help the issues facing our oceans.”

Living Seas Wales is a partnership project of WTSWW and North Wales Wildlife Trust and funded by the Welsh Government’s Tourism Product Innovation fund, The National Lottery Heritage Fund and players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Check out the Wildlife Trust’s Living Seas Wales website for videos and information on events. 

Keeping wildlife safe this Bonfire Night

Hedgehog by Tom Marshall

Roaring heat, spitting sparks and shooting flames. Everybody enjoys a good bonfire and fireworks, especially on Guy Fawkes Night!

But it is important to remember the impacts of bonfire night on wildlife.

The bright lights and loud bangs of fireworks scare many animals, both domestic pets, livestock and of course wildlife too! With ever increasing availability of fireworks for public purchase and busy working lives leading to a many celebrations; the disturbance to animals is not only on one night, but spread across weeks. This is not to say we cannot enjoy the festivities though. We recommend going to a larger organised and/or public event, or buying silent/quiet/animal friendly fireworks.

Fireworks are not the only danger to wildlife on bonfire night though. Bonfires are large piles of wood and sticks which look like great hiding places for all sorts of birds and small mammals, including the hedgehog.

Hedgehogs are one of fastest declining species of mammals in Britain, mainly due to decreasing amount of suitable habitat. Habitats become unsuitable through use of pesticides in gardens, towns and farming practices killing off invertebrates and other food sources. The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) manages nature reserves to ensure good quality habitats and food availability. WTSWW also leave deadwood in woodland to decompose and provide a suitable place for invertebrates to live which are food for hedgehogs and many other species.

You can help wildlife at home by following our handy tips.

Fragmentation is also an increasing problem for the hedgehog population, with fewer hedgerows, more roads and solid garden fences creating barriers and hazards. As well as working on our own nature reserves we also like to work with partners and neighbours to improve the wider living landscape and provide connections to allow species to move. One of these schemes is working in conjunction with partners and neighbours to maintain and re-implement hedgerows that connect nature reserves and other important habitats.

You can do similar at home by creating hedgehog highways in your garden and speaking to neighbours on your street to encourage a hedgehog friendly neighbourhood. More info here.

Bonfires piles make fantastic cover and hiding places for wildlife, and are particularly dangerous to hedgehogs who at this time of year are searching for suitable hibernation sites where they can overwinter. Log piles provide shelter against bad weather and cold temperatures. Due to the time it takes to build, many bonfires are built days beforehand; giving wildlife a chance to move in.

It is important to check bonfires for any sleeping wildlife before lighting!

We recommend building or rebuild your bonfire the night of burning. The act of taking apart should scare off wildlife and by doing it by hand gives slow moving animals a chance to make good their escape. This year is unusually mild, but in the unlikely event a hedgehog will already be hibernating, building by hand gives you the opportunity to find and rescue our prickly friends. If rebuilding is not an options, lift as much as possible and look inside and underneath with a torch looking for movement and signs of life.

Ways you can further help hedgehogs have a safe hibernation is to provide them with alternative housing options. Either by providing a designated log pile, or building a specific house. Find out how to build your own hedgehog home here.

On rare occasions bonfires actually help wildlife, when local Conservation Officers need to deal with high volume of material with little room for habitat piles.

To join a volunteer work party that has a bonfire, or much needed other habitat management work click here.

Have a truly WILD November 5th – and every other day of the year!

 

Discovery Gateway Funding for Parc Slip Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre

Parc Slip Visitor Centre Tondu

We are delighted to announce that a grant of £400,000 has been awarded to make improvements to Parc Slip Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre from the Welsh Government, Valleys Regional Park Discovery Gateways initiative.

This significant sum of money will allow The Wildlife Trust to invest in exciting projects which not only support the vital conservation work carried out on site but also enhance the overall visitor experience at Parc Slip over the next 18 months.

Sarah Kessell, Chief Executive Officer of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales said

“The Valleys are exceptional for their landscapes, wildlife, culture, heritage and communities and deserve wider recognition.  We are proud to be chosen as a Discovery Gateway and are looking forward to working with our partners on this exciting Valleys Regional Park initiative.  Parc Slip will receive £400,000 of Welsh Government funding to invest in better access links with local communities, and measures to increase sustainability, ecological diversity and to combat the climate crisis.”

The popularity of Parc Slip as a natural visitor attraction has rapidly grown over the last 4 years. Visitors travel from all over Wales and along the M4 corridor to attend events, enjoy the delicious food offering, connect with nature and explore the stunning 300 acre reserve. The visitor centre and nature reserve recently won the prestigious Bridgend Business Forum ‘2019 Tourism Business of the Year’ award which was sponsored by Handelsbanken, Bridgend.

Gina Gavigan, Marketing and Development Manager for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales said

“We would like to thank Welsh Government, Valleys Regional Park and Bridgend County Borough Council for recognising Parc Slip Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre as a Discovery Gateway location and for supporting us as we lead the way towards a Wilder Future in Bridgend.”

If you’d like to find out more information about Parc Slip Nature Reserve and Visitor Centre, please visit our website or follow us on social media @ParcSlipNR.

Welcome to our WILD family!

We have had the absolute delight of welcoming two new members of staff in the last few months.

Alice Midmore has joined us as Conservation Officer on our Ceredigion reserves. She works part-time, sharing her role with Em Foot.

Alice

She tells us a little about her new role, what she is looking forward to most and her background:

“My role is running the work parties for Ceredigion Nature Reserves and assisting with their overall management.  I originally trained and then worked in conservation 15 years ago where I worked for Sheffield Wildlife Trust as a Ranger in the city. I have since worked as a self employed carpenter and tutor running projects and courses with different groups of people.  I come from Ceredigion originally and have wanted to return to the area and to conservation  and am looking forward to combining my practical and people skills in this new role. I am also looking forward to being able to make a positive difference to the people and wild places of Ceredigion.”

 

 

We also extend a very warm welcome to Phil Harries who has recently joined the Mid-Wales Red Squirrel Project as a Grey Squirrel Officer.

Phil

Phil said:

“I have been actively involved in the red squirrel project since 2004,trapping reds, collecting hair samples for DNA analysis, also taking blood samples for identifying  para pox virus in the grey squirrel population. I hope that through my position I will be able to pass on my knowledge with the younger generation and volunteers.

I have been involved in the forestry industry for most of my working life, starting out tree felling, progressing to running my own harvesting teams. I then became a forester on a private estate, eventually becoming the forestry manager, until the estate was sold a few years ago.

In my spare time I am a keen motorcyclist. I am heavily involved in the Blood Bikes Wales charity, as an area rep, rider and fundraiser. The charity is completely voluntary offering an out of hour’s emergency courier service to the NHS.

In the few weeks that I have held the position of squirrel officer, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the rest of the team that are as passionate as I am for the preservation of the endangered red squirrel.”

We are delighted to welcome these two skilled and knowledgeable individuals to the Trust and look forward to seeing them settle in their new roles.

If you would like to join our WILD family, we post all vacancies on our Jobs page available here

 

 

 

Join us at our AGM this November!

Another year has passed, and what an eventful year it has been for the Trust!

We’ve had fundraising successes with the purchase of a new tractor for both Skomer Island and our Gower reserves. Parc Slip Nature Research and Visitor Centre was awarded ‘2019 Tourism Business of the Year’ award at the Bridgend Business Forum, and we have been successful in securing funding for development and continuation of our vital work.

Join us to hear a full update at our Annual General Meeting held on Sunday 16th November at the Welsh Wildlife Centre from 11am – 1pm.

We are delighted to welcome Mike Alexander, our key note speaker for the day who will provide an illustrated presentation on the flora of Skomer Island. It is not one to be missed!

For more information, please click here.

Woolly Puffins and Christmas Gifts!

Wildlife Trusts Christmas Cards (Bilingual) - Fox

Discover unique Christmas gift inspiration in our online Wildlife Trust shop.

Be the ultimate gift giver this year with presents that won’t fail to bring a smile to anyone’s face.

As an added bonus, when purchasing souvenirs from our online store and gift shop at the Welsh Wildlife Centre, you’ll be contributing to the vital conservation work that we carry out locally. 100% of profits from gifts in our shop goes towards:

·         Funding nationally important conservation projects across South and West Wales

·         Lobbying for better legislation to protect all wildlife in South and West Wales

·         Preserving and improving wildlife habitats throughout South and West Wales.

Our supporters fund a large amount of the Trust’s work – every single thing you buy does make a difference!

Here’s a few of our exciting new lines and old favourites to get the inspiration flowing…

Emma Ball’s Woolly Puffins

A fantastic range of quirky gifts featuring charming artwork of puffins in woolly jumpers! These will delight any puffin fanatic! Choose from an array of items including tea towels, notepads, chopping boards, bookmarks and desk planners.

Shop the range here.

Wildlife Adoptions from £3 a month

Giving a wildlife adoption as a gift this Christmas will not only put a smile on someone’s face but will also help us protect that species. As part of the adoption you’ll receive:

Introductory letter
Personalised Certificate
Fact Sheet
Soft Toy
Once a year (usually in autumn) you will receive a report on the adopted animal.
Please note that the last day to order your wildlife adoption to guarantee delivery in time for Christmas is Monday 9th December. After the 10th December we will still be taking adoption orders but will be unable to guarantee that they’ll arrive with you in time for Christmas.

Plush Puffin soft toy

My Living World Kits

These are brilliant for kids! Inspire children to take an active interest in nature with these handy science kits. See how a fascinating wormery works, or marvel at the arduous life of ants. Other exciting kits involve creating habitats for spiders, ladybirds and snails and even growing your own triops!

The Living World range also includes a pocket microscope set, a complete bug hunting kits, a window bird feeder and an instant flower press!

Shop the range here.

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Binoculars

With prices starting from £39.99, we’ve got a pair to suit everyone, including Opticron’s best selling Oregon range. Binoculars are a fantastic gift for any wildlife enthusiast and are perfect for all types of wildlife watching.

They are waterproof, covered by a 5 year warranty and are supplied with neck strap, cleaning cloth and carry case.

Get yours here.

Oregon 4 PC 8x42 Binoculars

Wild Tribe Heroes – Envrionmental Awareness Children’s Books

One of the most talked about subjects of 2019 has been the impact of humans on the environment and the struggle our wildlife is facing. These three delightful but striking and educational stories teach children about environmental awareness and pin point ways in which we can all make adjustments in our lives to lessen our impact on nature.

Choose from Duffy’s Lucky Escape, Marli’s Tangled Tale or Nelson’s Dangerous Dive.

Marli's Tangled Tale

Wildlife Trusts 2020 Calendar & Christmas Cards

Always a popular gift, the Wildlife Trusts 2020 calendar is especially stunning this year with striking images of native wildlife from all over the UK. Each calendar measures 30cm squared with handy boxes to fill in appointments and important dates.

Wildlife Trusts 2020 Calendar cover

Also available are packs of 10 Wildlife Trusts Christmas cards, again featuring superb wintery wildlife images. Each pack comes with 10 white envelopes. Bilingual card packs are available too.

Membership

Join us today and help support our Welsh wildlife. Every membership helps the Wildlife Trust pay for essential conservation work, tools for volunteers and protection of wildlife.

Benefits include our magazine, three times a year, our monthly e-newsletter, early booking to stay on Skomer Island and free landing on the island too.

Long term support makes a real difference to the success of wildlife in Wales; for this reason we would like you to be comfortable with your subscription amount and choose the amount that you wish to give. Most people give between £50 and £120 per year, or from less than £1 per week. The choice should remain with you.

Jigsaw Puzzles

We have a wide range of wonderful jigsaw puzzles. They contain 1000 pieces. Choose from 9 different wildlife themed designs.

Jigsaw Puzzle - Feathered Friends

Free delivery is available on orders over £20

To see all of our brilliant, wildlife themed products visit our online shop

Amazon Smile
If you’re looking for gifts that we don’t stock in our online shop, why not try Amazon Smile.

We’ve become part of the Amazon Smile initiative. Amazon Smile is an easy way to make charitable donations to us without costing you anything extra! Simply shop at www.smile.amazon.co.uk – the same amazon you know with the same products, prices and service but Amazon Smile will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible Amazon Smile purchases to us.

Support us by shopping on our online shop, or through Amazon Smile and selecting The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales as your charity to support – Thank you.

Happy shopping!

 

 

 

Welsh Wildlife Centre Awarded National Lottery Support!

The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) Welsh Wildlife Centre (WWC) have received a confirmed grant of £10,000 from the National Lottery Heritage Fund for an options appraisal project.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, the options appraisal project will focus on improving the WTSWW Visitor Centre, infrastructure and ancillary buildings at the Teifi Marshes nature reserve, Cilgerran.  The aim of the project will be to strengthen WTSWW’s financial resilience, increase the number and diversity of visitors, particularly during the off peak seasons and making the WWC buildings more sustainable.

Sarah Kessell, Chief Executive for WTSWW said

“We are grateful to Lottery players for this opportunity to invest in the Welsh Wildlife Centre.  Income from our visitor centres helps to fund our conservation work and so directly benefits local habitats and species.”

WWC and the Teifi Marshes is one of WTSWW’s flagship nature reserves and welcomes over 80,000 visitors per year. The 300 acre reserve has four nature trails and is home to some of Wales’ iconic species of wildlife including Kingfisher, Otters and Red Deer.

WTSWW are hopeful that the options appraisal is the first step to improving the visitor experience and efficiency of the Welsh Wildlife Centre. The options appraisal and other research collected during the duration of the project will be used to submit a full project application to HLF for the funding to implement the recommendations and to raise funds to match the HLF application.

The project will run until June 2020.

We are assembling a professional consultancy team to work on this exciting project over the next six months alongside the staff of WTSWW and the Project Manager.  The consultancy team will comprise

1.            An Architect,

2.            Landscape Architect,

3.            Building Services consultant

4.            Expert consultancy in sustainable construction/ energy / waste.

If you are interested in working with us, please read the brief and return your submission by Thursday 5th December.

Marine Plastics by volunteer Madison Bowden-Parry

Words by Madison Bowden Parry, Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales volunteer

Plastic is revolutionary. Being a durable, long-lasting and affordable material, plastic seems to have a never-ending application within our society. Due to its nature, it is not surprising that this material is so prevalent within our seas – and whenever we are finished with it, its strong lightweight and buoyant characteristics allow it to travel great distances, where ever it may wish to go. Currently, this rebellious material occupies every beach in the world, making up a staggering 60-80% of all marine debris studied. Marine plastics are not unheard of, and the increasing prevalence of plastic within the marine environment is a cause of great concern.

The ubiquitous nature of plastics within our seas has sparked enormous change amongst the minority, and there are now large communities all over the world, devoted to reducing their plastic use and consumption. In Wales, we are granted with a great diversity of marine life, of which is supported and protected tirelessly by, amongst others, wonderful and dedicated staff and volunteers of The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW). They work tremendously hard to keep our seas clean, from countless local beach cleans, ocean clean ups, informational articles and positive awareness outreach. In particular, a recent beach clean at Overton mere in Gower, staff and volunteers collected over 2000 pieces of plastics, both large and small. The collated data from 2.5 hours of beach cleaning revealed that the most abundant plastic collected was polystyrene.

Unfortunately, scientists estimate that 99% of seabirds globally will ingest plastic by 2050, which of course disrupts their normal feeding capabilities. One type of plastic that seems to go down well is the small, easily-digestible and easily mistaken for food types. These are either pre-production plastics called Nurdles, smaller than 5mm, that will eventually end up as a sturdy children’s toy or chair in your home, and the BAFF (biological aerated flooded filter) plastics, used within our wastewater treatment plants to filtrate our water. These plastics are designed small, light, and permanent, posing an invisible threat on our wildlife. Unarguably the facts and familiarity of plastic in our seas are distressing, and now, their prevalence is certainly not received and digested lightly. Change is happening and there is an ever-growing sense of community engagement and commonality for the health of our planet, and this positivity is certainly empowering.

Positive outreach is an area of which The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales (WTSWW) incorporate into their commitment to the protection of our wonderful wildlife and community education, and this is something that anyone can contribute to.

The Living Seas Wales project compromises of a team of passionate ocean enthusiasts, researchers and likeminded individuals that bring the intricacies of the seas to you. In collaboration with colleagues in North Wales Wildlife Trust, WTSWW’s Living Seas team help develop and manage important Marine Protected Areas (MPA’s), provide vital information on sustainable fish consumption and are making waves within marine habitat management and conservation. The combination of all of our efforts can amount to large scale change, and by spreading the word, raising awareness and making easy but imperative swaps, we can minimise our plastic waste, be responsible for a cleaner environment and help our wildlife thrive.

If you are interested in giving back to our blue planet, then you are in the right place! WTSWW offer many opportunities where you can help out and do your bit. Volunteering with your local group, donating to projects and supporting the Trust via a personal membership, there is certainly something for everyone.

If you are interested in volunteering with a local group or want to know more about The Wildlife Trust’s marine based activities, visit the volunteering section on the website and visit the Living Seas website to find out how to get involved!

We can be the change for good, to protect our seas and act for a Wilder Future.

Go on, let’s do this together!

 

 

Improvements for Carmel Nature Reserve

We are delighted to confirm some improvements at our Carmel Nautre Reserve, Carmarthenshire.

Carmel National Nature Reserve has benefitted recently with several new gates and 3 new drinkers. This new infrastructure has been put in to enable to us have more control over the grazing. We shall now be able to move the herd about the site, enabling us to get a better more even graze throughout, whilst also being able to limit mud in wet years. Previously with so few drinkers across the site we were unable to do this, which meant that numerous gateways including an entrance to the site suffered with thick mud during wet periods. Now it is possible for us to move the cattle to another area, if the ground starts to look too churned up. We hope that this will make the site more welcoming to visitors, improving their experience of Carmel, whilst also ultimately benefitting the grassland.

The funding also covered us to get 150 meters of roadside hedgerow laid last winter by a local contractor. He used a traditional Carmarthenshire style of crop and pleach laying, and the results look amazing. This newly laid hedge will ultimately regenerate the trees within the hedgerow and create a thicker more wildlife friendly hedgerow full of nesting and feeding potential. This winter we shall be carrying on where he left off and finishing the hedge with the Carmarthenshire Volunteer group.

This project is funded by Welsh Government’s Landfill Disposal Tax Community Scheme, administered by WCVA.

We are very happy with the result and hope that the visitor experience will be vastly improved thanks to these developments!

Find more information about our Carmel Nature Reserve here.

 

A helping hand from Pencoed College students

Students from Pencoed College along with the Trust’s regular volunteers combined to install a new stretch of fencing at Coed Garnllwyd in the Vale of Glamorgan across a couple of damp days in October.

Though mostly woodland, Coed Garnllwyd also has a stretch of meadow which we are in the process of restoring after years of minimal management due to lack of staff resources. Over the last few years, ably supported by incredibly hard-working volunteers, we have pushed back encroaching scrub and started mowing in order to gradually increase the floral diversity of the meadow. It’s a long-term process but is important due to the scarcity of unimproved calcareous grassland across the country as more and more is lost to agricultural ‘improvement’ or neglect.

As part of the restoration we would like to get some light grazing in to complement the mechanical cutting that we have been doing on an annual basis. In order to facilitate this we needed to install a stretch of fencing at the end of the meadow to prevent animals accessing dense scrub or the woodland itself. On the Tuesday our regular volunteer group started the process by clearing the line where the fence was going to go as well as starting the physically draining transfer of fencing material across the site. Then, on the following Sunday, 8 students on the HND Environmental Studies course came along with their tutor, Lyn Evans, on their monthly volunteer session to help out. This was not only incredibly useful to the Trust but also an excellent supplement to their studies and an opportunity for Lyn to demonstrate fencing techniques that they are learning as part of their course and that they could then practise in a real-world situation (with the predictable mud and rain…).

It was a long day and physically demanding but in the end we managed to get the whole stretch of fencing done. We’re incredibly grateful to the college for all their hard work and for giving up their Sunday, along with other work that they have done for us previously such as nest box building and step repairs.

Thanks also to our regular volunteer group who offer so much of their own time to help us manage the site as a whole – we really wouldn’t be able to do it without you!

If you would like to get involved, visit our volunteering web page.

Boardwalk appeal reaches target!

Funding for a new 600m boardwalk at Teifi Marshes Nature Reserve has now been secured and the structure will be erected during the winter of 2019/20.

The new boardwalk will create a circular route where there currently is none and will be free to access for local members and residents.

The route will provide access through the reedbed and wet woodland part of this spectacular nature reserve, allowing visitors to immerse themselves fully in the glorious habitats of this Site of Special Scientific Interest.

The Wildlife Trust is grateful to the Welsh Government for providing 80% of the total cost of the boardwalk and to members of the public for raising the final 20%. The new boardwalk will be to a high specification, with recycled plastic base materials giving it the longest life possible, and timber upper structures for aesthetic and maintenance benefit.

The hope is to have it fully opened by Spring of 2020.

Sadly, we have suffered destruction to our iconic Kingfisher hide. We are currently fundraising to replace the hide, you can donate here.

 

Raising money, one Halloumi at a time

We have some brie-lly gouda news, Ceredigion based business Caws Teifi are raising money for The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales through the sales of their Organic Halloumi!

Local business Caws Teifi have been donating a percentage of proceeds from every sale of their Organic Halloumi to the Trust since May this year.

Following the recent damage caused to our iconic Kingfisher hide at the Welsh Wildlife Centre in Cilgerran, Caws Teifi have donated a fantastic £98.03 towards the hide appeal.

Jenny McClelland, Sales and Marketing at Teifi Cheese said:

“We at Caws Teifi wanted to donate to The Wildlife Trust of South and West Wales because we are very aware of how wonderful the eco-system is around us, how important it is for us to farm, and how fragile it is. Our company is named after the magnificent river Teifi that flows in the hills surrounding the farm and we want to support the Welsh Widlife Centre in Cilgerran for all the wonderful work it does in keeping this precious part of nature thriving.”

We would like to thank Caws Teifi for their fundraising efforts!

If you love Halloumi and would like to do your bit for nature – go ahead an buy some Organic Halloumi from Caws Teifi! You won’t be disappointed!

If you would like to donate towards our Emergency Hide Appeal, you can do so here.