Some endangered species struggle to re-establish healthy populations in new areas, through habitat fragmentation, or physical barriers such as roads and towns which prevent their population spreading naturally. Captive Breeding and release programmes are one method to overcome these problems. Wildwood is involved with reintroduction schemes for a number of highly endangered species.
As a member of the National Dormouse Captive Breeders Group, Wildwood breeds dormice for reintroduction to Middle England where the dormouse is becoming extinct, through a mixture of habitat loss and unsympathetic management. Southern England is a stronghold for this species, but it is becoming increasingly rare elsewhere. It is a mammal most specifically associated with coppice woodlands, but it will use hedgerows, bracken stands and reedbeds.
The water vole is Britain's fastest disappearing mammal and this catastrophic decline has been brought about by a combination of poor habitat management, pollution and the introduction of North American mink, a voracious water vole predator. Wildwood is working with several conservation organizations and research institutions, including the Environment Agency, People's Trust for Endangered Species, WildCRU at Oxford University and the University of Greenwich, to try to halt this decline, through captive breeding and reintroducing the water vole to restored wetland habitats and developing research programmes to benefit wild populations.
Red squirrels are declining towards extinction and Wildwood Trust have joined forces with a number of organisations to help. Our breeding programme has been very successful. The squirrel babies, once grown up are being transported to the Welsh island of Anglesey to live wild, helping form a buffer population and safeguard the species against national extinction. Red squirrels went extinct in Kent in the 1960's.
The water shrew probably Britain's least-studied mammal and very little is known about its distribution or status. This means it is very difficult to tell whether populations are threatened. Because it feeds on water insects and invertebrates, it suffers from any pollutants in the water that these have ingested.
Wildwood has successfully bred water shrews in captivity. These animals have extremely high metabolisms and rarely live beyond a year. Wildwood is working with the People's Trust for Endangered Species to build a sufficient breeding group for future reintroduction projects, to be undertaken in partnership with other conservation agencies.
Once considerably more common in Britain than they are today, harvest mice have suffered from habitat loss and the changes to traditional farming practices in modern times.
Wildwood is helping the captive breeding and reintroduction project for the harvest mouse in central England. One of the novel ways of reintroducing harvest mice to the wild uses old tennis balls from Wimbledon, which make very acceptable nests if planted on sticks in dense vegetation with an entrance hole drilled in the side for this tiny mouse to use.
|Dormouse captive breeding fact sheet|
|Water vole fact sheet|
|Red squirrel fact sheet|
|Water shrew fact sheet|
|Harvest mouse fact sheet|