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Lizard bonanza at RSPB Farnham Heath

15 September 2014

A project to re-introduce Britain’s rarest lizard to RSPB Farnham Heath appears to be on track, despite spring floods wiping out this year’s entire batch of captive breeding stock.

ARC, the amphibian & reptile conservation charity, has been breeding captive sand lizards to repopulate the heath as part of the ongoing restoration plan. Sadly, floods at the breeding centre in Guildford, caused by unprecedented rainfall earlier this year drowned them as they hibernated.

Had they survived, their off-spring would have been destined to join others introduced to Farnham on two previous occasions. These staggered releases are standard practice, as it allows the animals to gradually colonise the site and also reduces any possible impacts on other resident species. Thankfully, recent site surveys have found that sand lizards from the first two releases have taken well to the site.

“This fills me with hope as it tells us that we’ve created the right conditions for sand lizards to survive and that the Farnham population is not as vulnerable to weather extremes as others may be,” said RSPB Farnham Heath Manager Mike Coates.

He added “Getting conditions just right wouldn’t have been possible without huge effort and commitment from our volunteers. The fact that surveyors spotted five sand lizards in half-an-hour suggests Farnham’s sand lizards may have a bright future.”

ARC’s Rob Free is managing the reintroduction. He said: “RSPB volunteers and staff at Farnham have created superb conditions for reptiles across the reserve and we’re certain that sand lizards will do well on this site. Our collaboration is bringing major benefits for the species at both county and UK level”

The third release of young sand lizards has now been re-scheduled for next year.

Notes

1.        The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.

 

2.        ARC [Amphibian and Reptile Conservation] is the national wildlife charity committed to conserving amphibians and reptiles and saving the disappearing habitats on which they depend. Their breeding site for captive sand lizards is based in Guildford, Surrey. The town suffered severe flooding earlier this year and the “nest” was inundated, drowning all of the hibernating lizards. http://www.arc-trust.org/

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