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Donkin's World: Finding Something That Is Truly British

The bumblebee, songthrush, oak tree, deep-sea coral and the bluebell.

Should one of these become the national emblem for Britain? Richard Donkin highlights an Earthwatch debate.

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The Australians have the kangaroo, New Zealanders, the kiwi, South Africans have a springbok as a national animal emblem while the US has the bald eagle and Russia, the bear. But the British lion feels wrong. We don't get lions in the UK. At least the Welsh daffodil is native and wild.

Earthwatch International thinks it's time we gave some thought to adopting one of our native species for a national emblem. It's holding a debate this month at the Royal Geographical Society to discuss five proposals put forward by Earthwatch-sponsored scientists. http://www.earthwatch.org/europe/debate

The five proposals are: the bumblebee, songthrush, oak tree, deep-sea coral and the bluebell. Some people might be surprised to find coral on the list but it is found off our isles. One good spot for coral is Lundy Island where you can also find the Lundy Cabbage, unique to Lundy. What about that for a representative species?

The list is provocative - would the Scots really entertain the English oak? - but by no means exhaustive. Among some good ideas discussed here are: badgers, wrens and robins.

I'm quite keen on the dormouse, smooth newt, Golden Eagle, red deer or the fox. I suppose the fox might be considered controversial as the pro-hunting lobby could view its emblematic adoption as another nail in the coffin of fox hunting. But I don't see it like that and nor should they. Other game species that deserve consideration are the English Partridge and the Red Grouse.


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