Sandy the Squirrel, the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels mascot, will take part in this weekend’s Scottish Conker Championships against Festival Fox at the Tweed Valley Forest Festival to raise awareness for the project.
The Tweed Valley Forest Festival has been running since 2006 and has been attracting over 5,000 people each year from far and near to celebrate the area’s customs and growing forest culture. It is also an opportunity for the Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels project to call on locals to volunteer and protect the future of the red squirrel.
The red squirrel is the UK’s only native squirrel and numbers have declined rapidly since the introduction of grey squirrels from North America in the 19th Century. Greys have replaced the native reds in much of the UK because they compete for food and habitat, and transmit the deadly Squirrelpox virus.
Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels Project Officer for the Borders, Alexa Seagrave, said: “Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels will be on hand at the Tweed Valley Forest Festival hoping to get more people in the area involved in red squirrel conservation. Please come and see us at our stand to learn about the project and the challenges of protecting red squirrels, and find out how you can help us.
“Sandy the Squirrel just couldn’t resist a conker face-off with Festival Fox, so make sure you come along to the event to cheer Sandy on.”
Coordinator of the Tweed Valley Forest Festival, Chris Sawers, said: “Everyone at the Tweed Valley Forest Festival will be very interested to find out who will win the conker battle between Festival Fox and Sandy the Squirrel.
“We are hoping this year's festival will be bigger than ever. With so much going on there is something for everybody.”
Saving Scotland’s Red Squirrels is a partnership project between the Scottish Wildlife Trust, Scottish Natural Heritage, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Land and Estates, RSPB Scotland and the Red Squirrel Survival Trust.
Since 1900, 95% of red squirrels in England and Wales have been wiped out. Today, 75% of the UK’s remaining population is found in Scotland.