There has been recent speculation that the public are becoming disconnected from nature. Is this true? And if so, why?  OnePoll conducted a nationally representative survey of 1000 UK adults to find out. We also wanted to find out the public’s favourite mammals, wildlife presenters, and animal TV programmes, because let’s face it, everyone loves an animal.

49% of respondents claimed to have an interest in UK wildlife, whilst the remainder had ‘some’ or ‘no’ interest. This interest varied across different regions of the UK with the North East of England having the greatest interest. This is most likely as a result of Northumberland National Park which covers 400 square miles, almost a quarter of the county of Northumberland. It is also one of the least populated National Parks in the UK.

The other regions in the top 5 of those most interested in wildlife were also notably greener areas:

  1. North East
  2. Scotland
  3. South West
  4. Northern Ireland
  5. Wales

Interest also varied according to age. Whilst 55% of over 55s were interested in wildlife, just 40% of people aged 18-24 said they had an interest. This age group were also the most likely to believe that wildlife is unimportant with 1 in 10 young adults not realizing the importance of UK wildlife! This could be partially blamed on the popularity of technology, causing many of us spending our weekends indoors. It may also be a result of urban culture and the growth of population in inner city areas where wildlife is not instantly accessible. In a recent TV interview with Barack Obama and Sir David Attenborough, which you can still view on iPlayer, Attenborough himself touched on this issue.

However all is not lost. The overall result was positive, with 95% of the public acknowledging that nature IS important, whether or not people were interested in it. The main reasons people gave for believing it was important were:

  • Important for the Environment (92%)
  • For Education (56%)
  • For Recreation (27%)
  • For Food (24%)
  • For Aesthetics (21%)

Although people stated that they had a lack of interest in animals, we wanted to find out whether they had a favourite or least favourite animal and it turns out people did. The results were:

UK’s favourite land mammals:

1. Hedgehogs (42% of females, 33% of males)
2. Deer
3. Rabbits
4. Badgers
5. Foxes
6. Grey Squirrel
7. Otter
8. Bats
9. Wildcat
10. Hare

UK’s least favourite land mammals:

1. Rat
2. Mouse
3. Bats
4. Grey Squirrel
5. Mink
6. Foxes
7. Weasel
8. Mole
9. Badgers
10. Voles

Bats, badgers, grey squirrels and foxes were the Marmite of the survey, appearing on both lists. This may be because of their contrasting looks and disposition; many people may like a animal because it looks cute but may dislike it due to it’s temperament and ability to cause harm or spread disease.   Maybe public knowledge of these fascinating mammals needs to be increased to improve public opinion and eliminate common misconceptions surrounding them e.g. ‘bats are vampires!’ which could lead to these animals losing popularity.


Interest in wildlife goes further than just a favourite animal for some, with 1 in 10 people stating they are members of wildlife groups; these were the top 5 mammal related societies:

  1. Wildlife Trust
  2. RSPCA
  3. Mammal Society
  4. Bat Conservation Trust
  5. WWF


According to the survey, just 1 in 20 people frequently visit nature reserves, with 44% either rarely or never visiting them; 19% of young adults (18-24) never visit nature reserves. However, 51% of people stated that they have been on a nature walk of some description in the past year. Interestingly, whereas 64% of females visited a park in the last year, only 46% of males did. In one question, we gave respondents a choice between a wildlife related activity or a non-related activity (e.g. cinema, meal out), 51% of people chose a non-wildlife related activity.


Here are the top 10 wildlife related activities that people would choose:

  1. Visiting the park
  2. Nature walk
  3. Visiting nature reserves
  4. Visiting the zoo
  5. Birdwatching
  6. Rockpooling
  7. Fishing
  8. Pond dipping
  9. Bat walk
  10. Hunting

Nature Programmes

If people aren’t actively experiencing nature are they engaging with it via the medium of television?

1 in 4 people do not watch wildlife programmes. Age seemed to play a large role in determining whether or not you were more likely to watch wildlife programmes with 87% of people aged 55+ tuning in, whilst just 57% of young adults (18-24) watched them. In the Attenborough Obama interview mentioned above, David Attenborough stated that access to these shows was very important as it gave younger generations, specifically those without first hand access to wildlife, the ability to educate themselves about nature and the importance of wildlife and planet earth.

Sir David Attenborough, unsurprisingly, came out as the top UK wildlife presenter yet other presenters generated mixed opinions. One person even stated that when it came to wildlife presents, they would have ‘anyone except Chris Packham!’; an opinion clearly not held by everyone as Mr Packham came second on the list.


Top UK wildlife presenter

  1. Sir David Attenborough (by a mile!)
  2. Chris Packham
  3. Michaela Strachan
  4. Bill Oddie
  5. Kate Humble


The Top 5 animal related programmes were:

  1. Planet Earth
  2. Life on Earth
  3. Springwatch
  4. Countryfile
  5. SuperVet


Do you think we are becoming disconnected from nature and what your favourite/least favourite UK land mammals? Tweet us at @OnePoll@cachivers to have your say.