Dream job alert – Suffolk Wildlife Trust is looking for a hedgehog intern based in Ipswich

A hedgehog peers out from its hiding place. Picture: ALAN BALDRY

A hedgehog peers out from its hiding place. Picture: ALAN BALDRY - Credit: Archant

Suffolk Wildlife Trust is seeking the services of a special volunteer – one who isn’t afraid of the dark.

Ipswich Hedgehog Officer Ali North with one of her beloved 'hogs. Picture: JOHN FERGUSON

Ipswich Hedgehog Officer Ali North with one of her beloved 'hogs. Picture: JOHN FERGUSON - Credit: John Ferguson Photography

The charity’s efforts to help our hedgehogs have been Herculean and high-profile.

They have entailed the appointment of a special hedgehog officer who is working towards making Ipswich the most hedgehog-friendly town in the UK, but she now needs help herself.

The trust has announced it is looking for “an enthusiastic voluntary intern” to join its initiative in Suffolk’s county town.

They said: “This is a rare opportunity to work at the cutting-edge of research that will help scientists understand more about the needs of hedgehogs in towns and cities. “The intern will assist with a research project aiming to estimate hedgehog population density at a designated study site in central Ipswich and the data collected will form part of a larger, UK-wide study.

Ipswich hedgehog officer Ali North with two of her young friends. Picture: JOHN FERGUSON

Ipswich hedgehog officer Ali North with two of her young friends. Picture: JOHN FERGUSON - Credit: John Ferguson Photography


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“The intern will work alongside Ipswich hedgehog officer Ali North and within Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s conservation team.”

It’s a chance to give practical help to a species that certainly needs all the help it can get. British statistics chart a staggering population decline.

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In the 1950s there were an estimated 30 million hedgehogs – by 1995 the number had crashed to only about 1.5 million.

Today, after continuing losses, it is thought that the British hedgehog population stands at a mere one million.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s intern will have a chance to contribute to wide-ranging efforts to arrest the decline – but will need to be a bit of a night owl.

The trust said: “Initially, the intern will work with Ali to identify suitable field sites (gardens), for inclusion in the study.

Then, from April 1, they will form part of a research team carrying out two weeks of night-time surveys, which start at 11pm.

“Keeping the hours of a hedgehog is not for the faint-hearted, but will offer a fascinating insight into their nocturnal habits,” the trust added.

“Night surveys will provide an opportunity for the intern to learn how to detect hedgehogs using torchlight and radio tracking.

“Camera traps, where motion triggers recording, will be used to support tracking activity, with captured footage forming an important part of the research.”

Ms North added: “The internship is perfect for somebody looking to gain experience in the conservation sector, or for someone with a genuine interest in wildlife research and conservation.

“I’m looking for somebody who’s really positive and friendly as the role requires working closely with residents to monitor hedgehog activity.”

The trust said the successful applicant would gain skills in conservation research, science communication and hedgehog survey techniques.

“They would also become familiar with the use of camera traps for scientific study and there may be the opportunity to assist with public events and activities – all of which are valuable workplace skills in the conservation sector.”

The charity’s project to make Ipswich the most hedgehog-friendly town in the UK is supported by players of the National Lottery through the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.

Over two years it aims to work with residents to create networks of linked-up gardens throughout the town that will give hedgehogs the space they need to thrive.

Applications for the internship should be made via the trust’s website and should be submitted by Monday, February 5.

More information can be obtained from Ms North or trust communications manager Kerry Stranix on 01473 890089.

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