Saturday 10 February 2024

Film Review: Terry Abraham's Cumbrian Red - Saving Our Red Squirrels


This is the most important film Terry Abraham has made. That's because it's a campaigning natural history film about the plight of red squirrels, a film that is both beautiful and disturbing. As well as showing the wonderful squirrels in their natural habitat Terry looks at the threats to them, especially the horrible squirrel pox, and talks to the people involved in protecting them - locals, rangers, conservationists and more. 

Terry spent many, many hours filming red squirrels and the results are superb. I defy anyone to watch this film and not fall in love with these delighfil little animals as they leap from branch to branch, run up and down trees, and bounce across streams from rock to rock. These images set the context for the vital work being done to protect them.

Red squirrels are native to the UK and were found in woodlands throughout Britain. Now they are confined to a few places in England and Wales with the Scottish Highlands the only area where they are still widespread. In the past red squirrels were persecuted by foresters but today the main threat comes from grey squirrels, an introduced species that carries the squirrel pox disease that kills red squirrels. The only way to deal with this is to keep grey squirrels away from the red ones. In areas like Cumbria where there are grey squirrels close by this means keeping a constant watch for them and swiftly eradicating any that appear. Even then just one grey coming into contact with reds can wipe out a colony as has happened in Cumbria since Terry made the film and which he sadly described in social media posts. 

Grey squirrels were introduced from America in the 1870s and have spread rapidly. They are the squirrels most people see. Of course it's not their fault that they carry a disease that doesn't affect them badly but which kills red squirrels but sadly they do so if we want red squirrels to continue to survive then greys have to be removed. All this is made very clear in the film. Terry does not shy away from presenting the facts of squirrel pox or that greys need to be shot to protect reds. It's a hard-hitting message. 

The dedication of the people Terry interviews in the film  and the effort that goes into looking after red squirrels is impressive. Without all this work red squirrels in Cumbria would have little future.

Cumbrian Red is a wonderful film that deserves to be widely seen.

Cumbrian Red is available to stream from Terry's website. It costs £14.99 to buy and £7.99 to rent for a week. You can also buy a DVD from *Striding Edge at £16.99. 

Terry posts regularly on his Facebook page and red squirrels often feature.

1 comment: