Emma has been volunteering on the Regent’s Park hedgehog conservation work since 2016. She was a student at the time and getting hands-on experience helped her get her role with the London Wildlife Trust.
“I started volunteering on the Regent's Park hedgehog project in May 2016 and have helped at every survey since. At the time I was starting to study hedgehogs in South London for my undergraduate dissertation, but didn't have any hands-on experience. A friend put me in touch with The Royal Parks, and the rest is history!
Not a typical Friday night out
“Every May and September I spend a few Friday nights wandering round Regent's Park looking for hedgehogs into the early hours. I've been lucky enough to be asked to be a volunteer supervisor, so I lead a small group of other volunteers as we search our allocated zone within the park.
"We use torches and thermal imagery cameras to try and find the hedgehogs, then take important measurements, before attaching special number tags to the spines and then releasing them again.
“Hedgehogs are an incredible species and more research is needed to understand why they are declining. Being able to help on an important project like this is incredible. It's great fun and it's contributing to the research of a nationally declining species.”
Study became a passion
“When I started it was merely to help me gain some background knowledge for my own studies, but it soon developed into a passion. Obviously there is the opportunity to get up close to the lovely hedgehogs, but I've also met some fantastic people.
“The experience I gained from these surveys also helped me to get a job as the hedgehog officer for London Wildlife Trust, so I now get to take what I've learnt with the Royal Parks and share it with my own group of volunteers!”
A part of the community
“The opportunity to see such a busy part of London when it's at its quietest has been incredible, and I've gained a new insight to the wildlife that can be found in the city.
"I love meeting new people who all share the same passion, and that some of the volunteers I've met have ended up becoming volunteers on my own hedgehog project. You end up feeling like you're part of an important hedgehog community!
"I love coming back to volunteer every year. You get to catch up with old friends, make new ones and do something important for science. Everyone I've met, staff and volunteers, have been so friendly and lovely, which really makes me look forward to each May and September coming round again."