Leading article: A sting in the tail

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You might be hard put to explain why it is, but Britons seem to have a fervent sympathy for bumblebees. Here are a few suggestions. They're furry and appear cuddly. (They remind us of mammals.) They're obviously hard working (no scroungers they). They're as much a part of our gardens as lawns. (Or they were.) Their first appearance is an unmistakable sign of the spring. (Or it was.) Their drowsy buzzing is one of the sounds of summer. (Or it should be.) They might only be the size of your thumbnail but they are among Britain's most popular creatures.

So now that bumblebees are in trouble, we at The Independent are proud to take a lead in backing the newly formed Bumblebee Conservation Trust. Pandas, tigers and polar bears may offer a more spectacular illustration of the shrinking diversity of the world's fauna, but the decline of our own bumblebee may offer evidence of change that is equally telling.

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