A Kingston University graduate is embarking on a mission to protect one the UK’s most treasured animals – the humble hedgehog.
Antigone Frichot, who has just completed a BA(Hons) in Product and Furniture Design, has come up with the concept for a garden haven light enough for human handling but robust enough to withstand the dogs, badgers and foxes who prey upon the spiny mammals and their young.
Antigone’s design, dubbed ‘Hoglodge’, is made of terracotta which she chose for its insulating properties and consists of a raised hollow base topped with a floor, a wall and a dome cover.
The base has been designed to keep hibernating residents off the cold ground, while the wall deflects wind and blocks predators from gaining entry.
Long regarded as a gardener’s friend because they thrive on plant-munching slugs, snails and insects hedgehogs confront a number of risks in their natural habitat – many of them man-made.
Wildlife experts estimate that the United Kingdom’s hedgehog population, which numbered approximately 34million in the 1950s, has now dropped to only about one million.
During visits to the London Wildlife Centre and Tiggywinkles to complete research for her project, Antigone discovered many perished because they had eaten slug pellets, licked creosote and non-water based wood preservers or made their nests in bonfires.
Antigone said: “Hedgehogs face so many dangers and can fall victim to all sorts of predators.
“That’s why it’s so important to find ways to help as many as possible survive into adulthood by changing the nation’s gardening habits and providing shelters.
“In the summer months, females have litters of four to eight babies and they need a safe space in which to nurse them.
“Being nocturnal creatures, it’s also really important for them to have somewhere secure to bed down.”
Born and bred in the Seychelles surrounded by lush rainforest, pristine beaches and a range of exotic flora and fauna, 23-year-old Antigone has always been a strong supporter of community-based conservation.
She has even been learning about bee-keeping since arriving in the United Kingdom.
“I grew up fascinated by creatures in my homeland, such as sea-turtles and giant tortoises, and I think that may have shaped my passion,” she explained.
“I’ve been just as intrigued by the wildlife I’ve learned so much about since I arrived in the United Kingdom to study four years ago.
— Helen Hooker (@helenhooker) June 16, 2015
“Finding out about the struggle such a much-loved species as the hedgehog faces to survive made me determined to do something practical that might be able to help its plight.”
Antigone hopes to combine her creative skills and the lessons she has learned about the British love of animals and wildlife.
“I really want to use my product design skills to contribute something to society – especially if it improves the lives of animals and the people who love them,” she said.