Translate

Sunday, 4 February 2018

WHAT'S WITH THE HABITUDE?

The Fight in the Forest
by Hans Burgkmair,
Bigfoot is big business these days! The 'merch' merchants are out in force, selling you everything from t-shirts to tortillas and kaftan's to coffee! There are Bigfoot tours, seminars, conferences, television documentaries and also some very serious research and scientific study! This astonishing multi-faith mix of manifold disciplinarians, collaborating (loosely) in the name of our elusive hairy hominid friend, whose popularity, it could be easily contended, proclaimed, or even professed, has eclipsed Nessie, now making 'it' the world's number one cryptid, is both exciting and treacherous to the uninitiated!

It is in this climate of self-made bigfooters, with their gofundme...ish campaigns, that we find, in small doses at least, some modern day sightings seeping out from some of the globe's lesser known, or at least lesser publicised Bigfoot locales.

The primacy of North America's Sasquatch in the promontory of the public minds eye, goes a little way to justifying the seemingly youthful appearance of other Bigfoot phenomena, making their way slowly to the front of the queue, appearing as brand new customers to the cryptid cashier, whose vision of the smaller 'squatch' has been understandably obscured by the giants she's been serving, over these past few decades!

This brings me neatly, of course, to our very own cryptid and cousin of North America's Sasquatch -  the British Bigfoot; or, as it has been referred to throughout its history - The Wodewose.  This beast, that has been depicted throughout European history upon the heraldry of many noble families as a tall, hair covered man, was once arguably ethno-known, among our ancient population as 'the wild man of the woods', a forest spirit, or guardian. (A description that is not too far removed from those of the first nations people of North America, the Sherpa peoples of Nepal and the Aboriginal peoples of Australia; as well as countless other archaic and original inhabitants of other lands.)

One of the external issues that affects the credibility of those researching these creatures in other 'smaller' or less 'squatchy' parts of the world, is that of Bigfoot's perceived habitat requirements and the alleged unavailability of untenanted or unpopulated land within which, it could reside unseen.
Putting these assumed base requirements aside, the British Bigfoot has actually been sighted hundreds of times in recent decades, with regular sightings being reported up to this very day, from diverse locations, throughout the length and breadth of the country - from the tops of our mistiest mountains, right down to the bottom of some of our most narrow and stagnant Glens.

The evidence for the existence of these animals is primarily anecdotal at present (eyewitness reports mainly), with some unsubstantiated blurry photos, footprints and stick signs thrown in for good measure, amidst other interesting evidence, such as researcher, Bigfoot Tony's 'tree pusher', accidentally captured on film somewhere in South Wales. And researcher, Neil Young's 'Infrasound' recording, captured at Harwood Forest, Northumberland!

Amidst this accumulating body of evidence, we find the 'regulation rebuttal' given by sceptics and Sasquatch fans alike, which is that, 'Britain lacks the available habitat and food sources to sustain a population of large hominids and keep them well fed and (mostly), well hidden from man.'

This misnomer, this Mandela effect of poor habitat, or perhaps to be more accurate, no habitat; has had a strong hold on the urban population of Britain (and the world) for many years. And yet, it is a surprisingly easy myth to dispel with freely available statistics and facts. The illusion of urban Britain, most probably engendered in the inception and franchising of the industrial revolution from our tiny island out unto the ends of the known world, is one that I hope to put to bed in this blog. Leaving in the aftermath of its sleepy collapse, into what I hope to be a permanent slumber, the clear light of a green field, on a sunny urbanless day!

There was, in 2012, one of the most complete studies of urbanisation in the UK, which was undertaken by the UK National Ecosystem Assessment. They were surprised to discover that only 6.8% of the UK's land area could be classified as urban" (a figure inclusive of rural development and roads). The figures when broken down amongst the 4 primary nations that make up the UK portrayed a picture far different from that which is enshrined in the mind of the average British city dweller, convinced of the lack of available green space in our allegedly tightly packed, tiny island!

Instead, this exhaustive study of our land found that the urban landscape only accounts for 10.6% of England, 1.9% of Scotland, 3.6% of Northern Ireland and 4.1% of Wales. This means that a whopping 93% of the UK is not urban. This tired illusion of urbanisation is further diminished by the studies finding that 54% of the land in our towns and cities is also green space (parks, allotments, football fields etc.) Our gardens further use up another 18% of urban land, and our waterways and reservoirs a further 6.6%.  In England alone, 78.6% of urban areas are natural! This leaves a miserly 2.27% of England's landscape that is actually built upon, meaning that England (the most populated country in the UK) is nearly 98% natural! And they dare to say, "there is no habitat!?"

Of course, in the light of these figures demonstrating the general isolation the average city Brit has from the wild places he is ironically surrounded by, it is not unexpected that the next objection that the unwilling would venture, is that of  the lack of food in our unproductive garden. As to what there is for a Bigfoot to eat in the British Countryside, again,a few simple statistics will easily illustrate the bountiful disposition of our green and pleasant land.

In the U.K., there are currently somewhere in the region of 1.5 million deer running wild. Rabbit numbers are somewhere around the 37.5 million mark. we have 33.337 million sheep, most of which graze on our hills and in our fields. There are 4000 wild boar, 62,000 breeding pairs of Canada Geese with a further 192,000 birds wintering here. We've myriads of game birds, wild fowl, small mammals, and healthy salmon and trout stocks, amongst many other fish species in great numbers in our rivers and lakes. There is also widespread crop growing and other available foodstuffs like wild berries and roots that grow year round. More than enough for an omnivorous, opportunistic and intelligent animal to exploit to its benefit!

There is another default argument that the majority of rural UK is intensively farmed and the actual remote areas are very small and encroached upon by our farming and high population density, but again in reality this exclusion is based upon an assumption and does not stand up to scrutiny. What we in fact see is, that although 70% of the total land is classified as agricultural, only 25% of the total land area is croppable (two thirds of production is devoted to livestock, one third to arable crops.) Most of the rest of the agricultural land is grassland, rough grazing, or woodland. So in actuality, the word  'farmland' is misleading. To use the most populous UK nation as an example again: We find that the rural population of England is estimated at 9.3 million people and that within this number, only 0.5 million people live in sparse settings. Further illustrating the available 'space' in England, is the fact that the percentage of urbanisation presented here in my article, is also inclusive of rural settlements and roads.

So, what we have here is an environment that is not entirely understood by its native population, that is spacious, underpopulated and healthy enough in provision for this cryptid creature to thrive in almost undetected. Something that the British Bigfoot or Wodewose, would seem to have mastered, over the many millennia it has spent living among us!


Written by Andrew McGrath

'Beasts of Britain' is now available in Paperback and Kindle 

Follow 'Beasts of Britain' on Facebook & Twitter