Dr L Rouge, PhD
And in today’s news it was announced that Nottingham Trent University is to carry out a study on the effect of vehicular traffic on hedgehogs. Given the number of flattened specimens that litter the nation’s roads, I suspect someone might be in line for a PhD thesis that simply comprises a statement of the bleedin’ obvious!
I’m rather fond of hedgehogs because of a familial connection. You see my paternal grandmother was one. More precisely, she was a Ježek, that is she was born in what became the country of Czechoslovakia and her Czech surname translated into English as ‘hedgehog’.
They even brew hedgehog beer there, at the Pivovar Jihlava (Jihlava brewery). As a hedgehog is the symbol of Jihlava, a town found between Prague and Brno, its Ježek lager represents the soul of the brewery.
Another Ježek is the hedgehog in the cage, a Czech puzzle that comprises a small sphere with protruding spikes of various lengths contained within a cylinder perforated with holes of different sizes. The challenge posed by the puzzle is how to release the sphere (the hedgehog) from the cylinder (the cage).
The Trent research isn’t, of course, as trivial as the puzzle or even observing the effects of a 4×4 on an individual hedgehog, but a broader study on the cumulative impact of traffic-induced mortality on the demographics of localised hedgehog populations and whether there is a way to mitigate that through developments in road engineering (ie hedgehog tunnels) or by defining hedgehog-friendly ‘best practice’ in town and country planning. (According to the BBC news website, a study from 2016 estimated that around 100,000 hedgehogs are killed each year on UK roads.)
Nevertheless, rather than await the outcome of the academic research, here is my five-line thesis as a statement of the bleedin’ obvious that tells you all you need to know…
The impact on hedgehogs of traffic
Is to screw up their whole demographic
‘Cos a sickening SPLAT
Soon renders them flat
In a scene that is gruesomely graphic!
Will it qualify me for a PhD d’you think?
Postscript: The eagle-eyed will have noticed that the current ALAW and its predecessor, both have splat and flat as the rhyme in the third and fourth lines albeit in a different order. This purely coincidental and, as a former collegue once stated “Coincidences are the most paradoxical of things – they should never happen, but they always do!”.