The ring-necked parakeet, whose green plumage is frequently spotted in south-west London (and, er, Kenley), could be threatened by changes to wildlife protection laws by Natural England, which will make it legal for anybody with a rifle or shotgun to blast the birds out of the skies in order to protect native species.
The parakeets, which according to a charming if dubious anecdote first arrived from their Himalayan habitat as fauna for the filming of The African Queen at Shepperton Studios, are something of a menace to the native bird population, hawking and harrying them out of their territory. They're not quite as unpopular as the ubiquitous urban pigeon — being an exotic green colour will do wonders for your PR — though they have been known to cause damage to historic buildings, and their shrill squawking is somthing of an 'acquired' taste. Under the changes, the Canada goose, Egyptian goose, and monk parakeet will also be fair game.
The ring-necked parakeets unfettered reign over London's branches and hedgerows — it's thought the population numbers 40,000 — looks set to end if gun-toting folk take up the opportunity to use them for a spot of target practice. It's certainly a cheaper method than the £60,000 per annum hawks used to patrol the pigeons of Trafalgar Square, though it could be hampered by a relative lack of suitable firearms in Barnes and Richmond. Perhaps residents would allow gun-carrying gang members from less fortunate boroughs to come and put their weapons training to use as a form of community service?
Photo by Lip Kee