In a city where their numbers are dwindling, residents are making a concerted effort to help London’s population of hedgehogs. Advocacy group, Hedgehog Street, is improving urban areas for hedgehogs, by inspiring the British public to make their gardens hedgehog-friendly and recruit their neighbours to create “Hedgehog Streets” in their community.
Hedgehogs love pottering through hedges, shrubs and gardens, but walls and fences make it difficult for them to navigate. This is why leaving a gap or creating a passageway is so desirable to ensure that the adorable, prickly creatures can pass freely through gardens.
So far, over 47,500 people have signed up to the Hedgehog Street project, which is trying to link more gardens and green spaces with ‘’highways’ in fences. This also includes creating more wild areas and log piles in gardens for insects and other wildlife, and putting out food and shallow dishes of water for the hedgehogs.
One man who is helping is Michel Birkenwald, a gemmologist by trade, who has founded and self-financed Barnes Hedgehogs, named after his hometown in London. He and his group drill the holes around the area for free in their spare time, and place signs beside them saying “Hedgehog Highway” so that people understand the purpose of the passageway and don’t try to block it up.
This work is considered vital as hedgehog numbers have fallen from approximately 30 million in the 1950s to under one million today in the UK. This is partly due to the fact that they’re more often reported as roadkill than as living creatures, and the green space habitat they favour has dwindled and become more spread out than it was previously.