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Wildwood Conservation consists of a vast variety of species that they try and preserve certain animals from going extinct due to the harsh reality of life.
- Many animals such as Woodland Bison, Wild Boar, Wild Horses, Pine martin, Red Squirrel, Little Egret, Otters and finally Water Vole are conserved and studied in Wildwood and taken great care of.
Global warming is just an excuse or makeshift for humans to let the world deteriorate and let many precious animals go extinct. The world once had a woolly mammoth that was portrayed in the movie Ice Age, now however the current nor the future generation can ever see it unless for cloning; due to the fact that it has been extinct because of careless measures taken.
Conservation is a huge topic that many people tend to be uninterested in mainly because they think it is unnecessary to care about and that it will not directly affect them. Habitats are being destroyed because of deforestation and mining therefore allowing animals to escape into the wild and be endangered. The Earth is a place that should be kept sacred and pure; however we humans tend to take it for granted and destroy the wellbeing of the given serenity.
In Wildwood at Canterbury we had seen many animals; from tiny Red Squirrels to an enormous Bison, they had a huge species richness of animals present:
- Red squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris): It is a natural squirrel and is very similar to the grey squirrel. The main cause behind their decline is the introduction of grey squirrels from America. Grey squirrels carry a disease, a Parapoxvirus, which does not appear to affect their health but often kills red squirrels (Woodlandtrust.org.uk, 2019).
- Pine martens(Martes martes): Is mostly found in the north of the UK, particularly Scotland. It prefers woodland habitats, climbing very well and living in tree holes. It feeds on small rodents, birds, eggs, insects and fruits (Wildlifetrusts.org, 2019). Similar to weasels and are carnivores.
- Little egret( Ardea alba): A white heron that feeds on small fish and crustaceans (Wildlifetrusts.org, 2019). They live in fresh water and, wetlands as well as coastal. Little egrets are mostly silent but make various croaking and bubbling calls at their breeding partners or colonies and produce a harsh alarm call when disturbed that is unrecognizable by humans as the frequency is too low (Kids.kiddle.co, 2019).
- Otters(Lutra lutra): Top predators, feeding mainly on fish, water birds, amphibians and crustaceans (Scottish Wildlife Trust, 2019). Almost got extinct because of an introduction of a new pesticide; dieldrin that were used for agricultural seed dressings, and sheep dips.
- Wild horses(Equus ferus): They are used as a natural pest control to aid conservation for the wetland and environment. They have hard hooves so they may tolerate many different types of ground conditions (Canadian Geographic, 2019). Because wild horses spend their time roaming the terrain, they can look dirty and mangy (Canadian Geographic, 2019).
- Wild Boar(Sus scrofa): People hunt them for the meat, they themselves eat anything. Went extinct as most of them escaped captivity and didn’t know how to survive and got poached/ killed. There are not that many wild boars around as they are to be known as an accidental reintroduction.
- Woodland Bison(Bison bonasus): Simply known as a big cow and they mostly eat plants. Have almost gone extinct, lost their habitat and only left with a hundred or so in Eastern Europe. During the mating season, which reaches is usually in August, the bison engage in head-butting contests to determine their social dominance (Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019).
My specific animal is the Water vole (Arvicola terrestris) as they have a very interesting life and backstory to how they were formed. The exact number of water voles left are 875,000; this is due to many preventable reasons that shouldn’t have necessarily occurred (People’s Trust for Endangered Species, 2019).
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The water vole is Britain’s fastest declining mammal, disappearing from 70% of known sites in only seven years between national surveys in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1998, there were estimated to be only 875,000 individuals (Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust, 2019). In simple terms a water vole is bigger than a rat; physically speaking, they live in the river specifically places with slow flowing water. Water voles are the dominant herbivorous rodents in non-arid areas (Nhc.ed.ac.uk, 2019) they have high crowned teeth used to chew across tough vegetation such as grass.
At Wildwood Canterbury the water voles were kept under quarantine to preserve their existence; as foreign objects we carry billions of germs therefore we had to undergo a health and safety protocol. Which was to dip our shoes into a bucket of sanitized water then walk across a tube of soap before entering and repeating it once we left. This was done to ensure that no outside germs can infiltrate the water voles immune system as there are so few of them left.
Water voles leave behind 45 degree chopped vegetation because of their teeth markings and to mark their territories. They live in about 4-10 cm burrows that are wider than height, make a “plopping” sound as they jump in the water (Sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk, 2019). Mink and rats are primary threats for water voles and especially minks as they can follow water voles into their burrows. Floods can also cause an overflow of water let the animal drown in its burrow. On the contrary droughts can also cause water voles to die as they are wetland animals and water is essential for survival.
In summary water voles are bigger version of mice and rats that live in the wetland and once were overpopulated in the United Kingdom until a disease had nearly been displaced; due to pollution and habitat loss. Further explaining due to overgrazing and also hunting and poaching near the river banks that make it unsuitable for the animals to survive (People’s Trust for Endangered Species, 2019). Weather is also a huge factor on water voles’ habitats being lost as prolonged periods of flooding make the water voles vulnerable to predators and force them from burrows and feeding places out on to the open (Sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk, 2019). They are tiny ,vulnerable and important animals that we should preserve under any circumstances.
- Canadian Geographic. (2019). Animal Facts: Wild horse. [online] Available at: https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/animal-facts-wild-horse [Accessed 7 Jun. 2019].
- Encyclopedia Britannica. (2019). bison | Facts. [online] Available at: https://www.britannica.com/animal/bison [Accessed 6 Jun. 2019].
- Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust. (2019). Water Vole. [online] Available at: https://www.gwct.org.uk/wildlife/research/mammals/water-vole/ [Accessed 5 Jun. 2019].
- Kids.kiddle.co. (2019). Little egret Facts for Kids. [online] Available at: https://kids.kiddle.co/Little_egret [Accessed 8 Jun. 2019].
- Nhc.ed.ac.uk. (2019). Natural History Collections: Water Vole. [online] Available at: http://www.nhc.ed.ac.uk/index.php?page=4184.108.40.206 [Accessed 8 Jun. 2019].
- People’s Trust for Endangered Species. (2019). Water vole – People’s Trust for Endangered Species. [online] Available at: https://ptes.org/get-informed/facts-figures/water-vole/ [Accessed 6 Jun. 2019].
- Scottish Wildlife Trust. (2019). Otter | Scottish Wildlife Trust. [online] Available at: https://scottishwildlifetrust.org.uk/species/otter/ [Accessed 6 Jun. 2019].
- Sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk. (2019). Water Vole | Sussex Wildlife Trust. [online] Available at: https://sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/discover/around-sussex/wetlands/wetland-species/water-vole [Accessed 7 Jun. 2019].
- Wildlifetrusts.org. (2019). Little Egret | The Wildlife Trusts. [online] Available at: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/birds/herons-egrets-and-spoonbill/little-egret [Accessed 7 Jun. 2019].
- Wildlifetrusts.org. (2019). Pine marten | The Wildlife Trusts. [online] Available at: https://www.wildlifetrusts.org/wildlife-explorer/mammals/pine-marten [Accessed 7 Jun. 2019].
- Wildwoodtrust.org. (2019). Water Vole | Wildwood Trust. [online] Available at: https://wildwoodtrust.org/wildwood-kent/animals/water-vole [Accessed 6 Jun. 2019].
- Woodlandtrust.org.uk. (2019). Red squirrel facts. [online] Available at: https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/blog/2018/11/red-squirrel-facts/ [Accessed 7 Jun. 2019].
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