Ali North has been appointed as Hedgehog Officer for the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, seeing off global competition for the role.

Exeter graduate to play pivotal role in saving Mrs Tiggy-Winkle

The humble hedgehog is to be given a helping hand in its fight for survival, thanks to a recent graduate from the University of Exeter.

Ali North has been appointed as the UK’s first Hedgehog Officer for the Suffolk Wildlife Trust, seeing off global competition for the conservation role.

Ali, who recently completed a BSc and MSc at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation in Penryn, Cornwall, was selected from more than 150 applicants for the new position, which is designed to promote Ipswich as the most hedgehog friendly town in the country.

The hedgehog is a widespread species but has recently seen concerning declines in the UK, with numbers estimated to have dropped by up to a third in urban areas between 2000 and 2014.

The Trust chose to focus on Ipswich after receiving a large number of sightings by members of the public.

Ali’s work will involve building up a network of volunteers who will help create ‘hedgehog highways’, such as holes in fences and walls of urban gardens. This will reduce the threat of habitat fragmentation, which is a severe problem for urban hedgehogs.

Alongside this, she will also create a general awareness campaign, promoting wildlife friendly garden management techniques.

Ali said: “My courses at Exeter definitely gave me a good backing in general ecological theory and practical knowledge that has been useful for all of my jobs since graduating. It also provided me with skills such as how to communicate science, how to develop rigorous methodologies and how to manage and analyse data, all of which will be so useful for this post.”

“Whilst at Exeter I was involved in a number of projects that were also beneficial to this role. This includes my ecological survey and engagement work that I did with the society Ecosoc. In addition I conducted a harvest mouse conservation research project at the Environment and Sustainability Institute between my undergraduate and postgraduate degree, funded by People’s Trust for Endangered Species.

“My undergraduate research project focused on the impact of artificial street lighting on small mammals which gave me a good backing in mammal ecology and my MSc research project looked at disease in UK amphibians which gave me great experience in working with garden owners, which will be especially relevant for my new job as a Hedgehog Officer.”

Date: 26 September 2016

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