Our Conservation Projects

As a licensed zoo it is our responsibility to be actively involved in conservation, as well as bringing you closer to the world of reptiles, amphibians and Invertebrates with our exhibits and the information boards you will find around the zoo building we are are also involved with the following projects.

 
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Predation of Amphibians by Leeches in the UK survey.

We Need Your Sightings!  Leech Predation on Amphibans here on the Isle of Wight has been quite a regular occurrence for at least the past ten years.


We first saw it when we were running the Exotic Pet shop and someone brought in a toad that had a beard of leeches and eye sockets full of them! Since then we have seen numerous sightings on local groups or have been contacted for advice on treating the afflicted amphibians. It simply didn't register that this was not a widespread common occurrence, Having seen a post about a Leech "attack" on the Mainland in the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Amphibian and Reptile Group (HIWARG) by Pete West the penny dropped,


Pete wrote..

"About ten days ago, someone in Devon found a toad with leeches completely covering both eyes and a few in its limb joints. After a couple of days of comments with nobody any the wiser, Steve Allain found a photo of a toad in a similar situation from the Isle of Wight from eight years ago.

I tried tracking this case down, but was unsuccesful, but did find a natural history note on leeches in Tunisia predating on their native toads in a similar way. This prompted me to follow this up with the Non Native Species Secretariat who were very interested and have since been in discussion with ARC, ARG UK and Garden Wildlife Health (who investigate wildlife disease etc).

I decided to post the story on HIWARG and DARN's FB page, along with a couple of other local FB pages in the hope the groups would do their thing and spread the news... I didn't think it would work so quickly, but in less than 24 hours Charis posted two photos of frogs covered in leeches, one of which she had in captivity. Since then emails and messages have been zinging back and forth between the two finders, GWH and the other agencies and samples of the leeches are on their way to be identified.

We don't know if this is an unrecorded behaviour of a native leech or a new non-native species of leech as described from the Mediterranean. All will hopefully be revelead by GWH."


We know this is prevalent on the Isle of Wight so we would really like to build up a picture of how far this is occurring. If you have seen this first hand in Amphibians please take 5 minutes to fill in our survey form and all info will be passed to the relevant organisations.

Survey link here - https://forms.gle/rQUyvhR5QF9HXdwd7

(thank you to all who allowed use of photos and apologies in advance if we were unable to get permission)

 
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Dormouse Habitat

We are Really lucky to have Dormice living in the Country Park. 

Hazel Dormice Muscardinus avellanarius - In situ


Aim: To Promote public awareness of the species, to promote the creation of suitable habitat (nest sites) and to partake in monitoring of the species. 


Conservation Criteria to be met: 

1.participating in research from which conservation benefits accrue to the species,

3. the exchange of information relating to species conservation


How: 

We aim to increase public awareness of the species through interpretation boards inside the reptilarium, sponsoring interpretation boards within the country park visitor centre and near to suitable habitat in the country park. 


We will with permission from the land owner source and site a number of Dormouse nest / Monitoring Boxes within an area of suitable habitat within the country park or other suitable habitat land available to the reptilarium. Boxes will be numbered and mapped as per National Dormouse Monitoring Programme Guidelines. 


We will make staff available to participate in dormouse monitoring programmes and receive training with a view to obtaining the relevant Hazel Dormice Survey Licence (time frame 3 years +). Once staff are Licenced to disturb nest boxes monitoring of the boxes can be undertaken and observations recorded with the national dormouse monitoring programme. 


Timescale: Interpretation boards to be implemented from April 2021,  Nest Boxes can be Mapped and sited within the first year of the project. Training of staff will take approx 3 years to obtain a licence, Monitoring And recording would commence from year 3 onwards. 


Evaluation: we will evaluate this measure by monitoring staff training and progression towards dormouse licence, and subsequently ongoing recording and monitoring of population and nest sites.

 

Adder - Vipera berus

 

Adder Vipera berus - In situ


Aim: To Promote public awareness of the species, to promote the protection / public perception and to partake in monitoring of the species. 


Conservation Criteria to be met: 

1.participating in research from which conservation benefits accrue to the species,

3. the exchange of information relating to species conservation


How: 

We aim to increase public awareness of the species through interpretation boards inside the reptilarium, sponsoring interpretation boards within the country park visitor centre and partake in monitoring programs for population. 


We will with permission from landowners establish monitoring points at locations within suitable habitat. Sites will be visited for observations and checking for the presence of species, observations will be recorded on the Amphibian and Reptile conservation group site - https://www.recordpool.org.uk/make-the-adder-count 

 

01983 761582

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