Letkids gowild; TV presenter Michaela Strachan on getting next generation off their screens and into natureEDITED BY SALLY MCLEANChris and I are passionate about reconnecting kids with wildlife.. but it's toughTV's Michaela says her generation must get youngsters interested in wildlife.. or consequences could be dire.
SPRINGWATCH star Michaela Strachan is urging parents to tear their kids away from TVs and video games to try to get them interested in wildlife.
The star has devoted her life to animals and nature and is campaigning to save the kiwi from extinction.
She gets distraught when she thinks of the death of Sudan, the last surviving male northern white rhino - who she and her family met in 2016 - earlier this year.
She said: "It's so important that we use these animals as icon animals because if we can't get people to care about an iconic animal, there's no hope for anything else.
"This year, we have seen a species - the northern white rhino - disappear. I found that incredibly emotional.
"Partly because it's a rhino but also because two years ago we went to see that very rhino and my son, who was 10 at the time, touched Sudan.
"I choke up when I talk about it. For my 10-year-old son to have touched an animal that is now extinct - it's incredibly poignant. How did we let it happen?" The key, she says, is to get kids and adults engaged with the world around them and the creatures who inhabit our planet - for now.
With co-presenter Chris Packham, she does what she can to excite kids about nature - but with so many distractions, it's no mean feat.
She said: "A lot of people are disconnected from wildlife and the natural world.
"Chris and I are passionate about getting kids reconnected with wildlife but it's difficult when you're competing with addictive games, screen time and social media.
"Our generation has to reconnect this generation because if we lose them, it's a downward slide."
Her latest specific quest is to help save the kiwi, the New Zealand native bird which is under threat.
Old Mout Cider produced a documentary, A Forgotten World, following Michaela and Chris as they visited a sanctuary for the flightless birds.
She said: "Kiwi numbers have dropped dramatically - 99 per cent over 50 years - and New Zealand loses about 1000 every year.
"The problem is predators - possoms, stouts, rats, dogs, cats. The kiwi is a flightless bird and there weren't any mammals in New Zealand until man arrived.
"The chances of a kiwi surviving to adulthood are one in 20, so unless something's done, they will go extinct.
"I got involved with Old Mout last year when Chris and I did the Kiwi Wild Show.
"I also went out to New Zealand and did a film for Kiwis for Kiwi, who take eggs from the wild and put them into captivity to hatch.
"Once they're a certain size and shape, they put them into predator-proof fenced areas and then predator-free islands.
"They say they can increase survival chances to 14 in 20."
Kiwis are so rare that even Michaela, who films wildlife for a living, had never seen one until this sanctuary visit. In fact, even most New Zealanders have never seen one, which shows just how serious the situation is.
"The first time I saw a proper wild kiwi was on this trip. They're really difficult to see in the wild and most kiwis have never seen a kiwi.
"They're nocturnal and very skittish, so you've got to be in the right place and out at night looking.
"The first time I travelled to New Zealand, I saw a kiwi being cared for in captivity.
"We took it out of its burrow to be weighed, so I held a kiwi in my hand which was fantastic.
"They are so adorable. Although someone said on Twitter after Springwatch, 'Let's give charity 10p every time Michaela says adorable'. Perhaps it's an overused word for me."
It may seem hopeless but Michaela is confident this project can save the kiwi - and that's why she's involved.
She said: "This is one of those project's that's working and that's why I'm so excited about it.
"So often, you support things because you care and 10 years later it's a worse situation than it was.
"This seems to be a situation that is getting better."
." ? Old Mout Cider will donate 20p for every person who signs up to their mission to save the kiwi. Visit oldmoutcider.co.uk/ help-save-the-kiw
NATURE FAN TV presenter Michaela's enthusiasm is infectious. Picture: Glenn Dearing/BBC
SCREEN TEAM Michaela with Chris Packham. Picture: Tessa Worgan/BBC
GONE The last of the northern white rhinos
CONSERVATION Michaela with a kiwi bird