At the last Millfields Users Meeting, Tom Fry, a Research Associate at the Department of Geography, University of Cambridge gave a presentation on his red foxes project which led to several of us signing up!
Tom is a member of Urban Ecologies, an interdisciplinary research project funded by the European Research Council, which tries to understand the ways in which cities shape the lives of animals and their relations with people who live there. They have a team of researchers working in London, and in Delhi and Guwahati in India, covering a range of different animals, from macaques to parakeets to urban livestock.
Tom’s research under this project focuses on urban red foxes in inner-city London, and in Hackney and Walthamstow in particular. He is trying to understand how people and foxes live and function near each other in the inner-city: what are the things that allow for foxes and people to live together, and what does this living together involve? He is specifically interested in two main issues: firstly, how do urban foxes adapt their behaviour and use space in different types of gardens; secondly, how do people relate to, and understand, the foxes they share their gardens with?
Tom says: “We want this project to be participatory: we want people to help us answer these questions, and to share their own knowledge and experiences of living with foxes. The project is pursuing a citizen-science led approach, meaning we see local people as vital to collecting and producing knowledge about the environment, and in shaping how this knowledge is used and analysed. We would like to recruit people to monitor the activities, behaviours and lifeways of the foxes they share their gardens and neighbourhoods with, and in doing so produce rich biographical accounts of their local fox families and individuals. This sort of in-depth data will help us understand the behavioural adaptations of foxes in inner-city London, and highlight the ways in which they can or cannot coexist with people. Where possible we would be able to supply equipment, such as video camera traps, so that people can observe foxes (and other wildlife) in their gardens, as well as provide logistical and analytical support.
I’m looking for people who live in Hackney and Walthamstow who are interested in wildlife, would enjoy using camera traps to observe wildlife in their gardens, and who might share in the wider project goal of creating knowledge that can aid in creating environmentally sustainable cities. If you’re at all interested please do get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Even if you don’t want to participate, but you know of people who feed their local foxes, or try and encourage them to den in their gardens, or interact with them at all, please do let me know.”