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UK Wildlife Decline

What Can You Do To Help Endangered UK Wildlife?

In recent years, British wildlife has been in decline. The 2020 WWF: State of Nature report showed a 68% decline in worldwide population sizes of mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish between 1970 and 2016. Over the last half-century, a combination of urbanisation, agriculture, climate change, and pollution has caused the animal levels to decrease, something that continued despite efforts to prevent and reverse losses.

WWF State of Nature Report Main Points

68% average drop in global wildlife population sizes since the 1970s.

75% of the Earth’s ice-free land surface has been significantly altered.

80% of global marine pollution comes from agriculture runoff, untreated sewage, discharge of nutrients and pesticides.

90% of all seabirds are found to have plastic pieces in their stomachs.

94% decline in the LPI for the tropical subregions of the Americas is the largest fall observed in any region.

Humans are overusing the Earth’s biodiversity by at least 56%.

Why Does This Matter?

Biodiversity is fundamental to human life, however, human life threatens biodiversity. Currently, biodiversity is being destroyed at an unprecedented rate.

Hedgehogs

Scientific Name: Erinaceus Europaeus

Brief Description

Hedgehogs have a rounded body which is covered in short, dark, yellow-tipped spines. Their face and underside are covered in coarse hair. In the summer they spend most of the day sheltering in a nest of leaves, moss and grass throughout mainland Britain.. They come out at night and can be heard snuffling and grunting as they forage for food. In the autumn they tend to find a sheltered spot to hibernate. Many hedgehogs are killed unintentionally by humans: on the road, with lawnmowers, strimmers, and garden chemicals, and in bonfires.

What They Eat

Hedgehogs tend to forage for food eating slugs, snails and beetles, as well as also eating birds’ eggs, nestlings and even dead animals.

Measurements

Length up to 30cm | Weight up to 1.2kg

Natural Habitats

  • Flower Borders | Hedges | Herb Gardens | Lawns/Grassy Areas | Meadow Areas | Patio | Ponds

Natural Habitats

  • The well recognised hedgehog has seen it’s numbers decline harshly within the UK. in 1950, there were estimated to be around 36 million hedgehogs in the UK, however, reports suggest there were only as many as 1 million hedgehogs across the UK in 2013.

New Forest Cicadas

Scientific Name: Cicadoidea

Brief Description

Cicadas are actually a superfamily of insects that are divided into two families; Tettigarctidae (with two species in Australia) and Cicadidae (More than 3000 species across the world). The insects have prominent eyes, short antennae, and membranous wings. They’re known for their loud song which is produced by most species and is actually one of the loudest insects in the world.

What They Eat

Cicada nymphs drink sap from the xylem of various species of trees, including oak, cypress, willow, ash, and maple, while adults drink plant sap.

Measurements

Length up to 5.5cm | Weight up to 2g

Natural Habitats

  • Trees | Hedges | Flower Borders | Meadow Areas

Natural Habitats

  • Cicadas are common throughout Europe, however, their numbers have struggled in the UK with population numbers now confined to small areas of the New Forest in Hampshire. There have otherwise been no reported sightings of the bug since the beginning of 2000. Some people think the Cicada to already be extinct within the UK, but experts say the insect suffered a similar drought in numbers during the 1940s and 1960s.

Scientific Name: Sciurus Vulgaris

Brief Description

  • Red Squirrels are a species of squirrel common throughout Eurasia (Europe & Asia). The red squirrel is slightly smaller than the eastern grey squirrel and are recognised by their red to russet fur, long ear tufts and long fluffy tails. The red squirrel is very elusive and spends most of it’s time in the tree canopy, unlike many squirrels, the red squirrel doesn’t hibernate over winter instead choosing to stock up on fungi to eat. Due to the introduction of the grey squirrel to the UK, red squirrels have died out.

What They Eat

Red squirrels eat a mainly vegetarian diet consisting of seeds, hazelnuts, ripe acorns, fungus, bark and even sapwood. They may also occasionally take animal prey such as young birds and unattended eggs.

Measurements

Length up to 21cm | Weight up to 330g

Natural Habitats

  • Trees | Hedges | Woodland Areas

Natural Habitats

The biggest threat to red squirrels in the UK is actually the introduction of grey squirrels from North America during the late 19th-early 20th century. Unfortunately, the grey squirrels tend to out-complete the smaller red squirrels. Not only did grey squirrels out compete red squirrels for food, but they also brought with them new diseases that threatened red squirrels. Numbers of red squirrels are now very low and they can only really be found in specific areas of the UK.

Water Vole

Scientific Name: Arvicola Amphibius

Brief Description

Water voles have chestnut-brown fur with a blunt rounded nose, small ears, and a fluffy tail with a similar appearance to the brown rat – Scotland’s water voles tend to appear darker with almost black fur. UK water voles are actually much larger than other vole species you might come across in other parts of the world.

What They Eat

Water voles eat grasses and waterside vegetation, with around 227 plant species having been identified within their diet.

Measurements

Length up to 22cm | Weight up to 0.3kg

Natural Habitats

Rivers | Streams | Pools | Lakes | Marshes

Natural Habitats

Water voles were once widespread and common throughout the UK. The water vole is still widespread throughout the UK, however, within the last 10 years, the water vole has undergone one of the most serious declines of any British mammal.

Pine Martens

Scientific Name: Martes Martes

Brief Description

Pine Martens are closely related to weasels, ferrets, and otters and look alike to these species with small round ears, short legs, and longer bodies. The pine marten is larger than many of its relatives roughly the size of a small cat with males being around 1/3rd bigger than females.

What They Eat

Pine Martens find much of their food on the ground, hunting at night and dusk for small mammals like voles and rabbits along with birds and insects. The pine marten will also snack on fungi, berries, and eggs they find while foraging for food. One potentially positive note, pine martens have also been found to prey on grey squirrels, meaning they could be useful for helping improve red squirrel numbers.

Measurements

Length up to 27cm | Weight up to 2.2kg

Natural Habitats

Woodlands (Often Pine Trees) | Scrub | Rocky Areas

Natural Habitats

Once the second most common carnivore within Britain’s woodlands until it’s numbers took a decline and the animal almost ended up extinct within the UK. Clearance of woodlands together with predator control decimated pine marten populations, with Scotland being one of the main areas that the carnivore survived.

Scottish Wildcat

Scientific Name: Felis Silvestris

Brief Description

  • The Scottish Wildcat is a small feline with brown mottled fur (marked with spots or smears of colour) and markings similar to that of a tabby cat – not identical. They have a very distinct thick, blunt tail that often has black stripes or rings around it. Not to be confused with domestic cats, wildcats are stockier and more muscular than domestic cats.

What They Eat

Scottish wildcats mainly feed on small mammals like rabbits and rodents such as voles and rats. They’re also not fussy about taking down a variety of bird species with their excellent sight and stealth hunting.

Measurements

Length up to 98cm | Weight up to 8kg

Natural Habitats

Woodlands | Shrubland | Forests

Natural Habitats

Scottish wildcats are one of the rarest mammals within the UK, due to a combination of hunting and habitat loss they disappeared from England and Wales around 200 years ago. The biggest threat currently facing Scottish wildcats is hybridisation as they often breed with feral domestic cats diluting the wildcats’ genes.

Making Your Garden More Wildlife Friendly

  • Around 87% of UK households have a garden and with a little planning and thinking can provide an abundance of different habitats for UK wildlife without sacrificing any of your garden space. From simple birdhouses to incorporating a little more plant life within your garden, there are many ways you can adapt your garden to offer a home for British wildlife.

Grow a Range of Plants

Plants are great for attracting wildlife to your garden while also providing a food source for butterflies and moths. While these animals will happily feed on the nectar from most plants, their young may only feed on one or two plant species – for example, brimstone butterflies will only feed and lay eggs on buckthorn bushes. Planting a range of different plants and flowers that flower at different stages of the year is a great way to attract new wildlife and provide a food source for many different species and animals.

Add Bird Feeders

Plants are great for attracting wildlife to your garden while also providing a food source for butterflies and moths. While these animals will happily feed on the nectar from most plants, their young may only feed on one or two plant species – for example, brimstone butterflies will only feed and lay eggs on buckthorn bushes. Planting a range of different plants and flowers that flower at different stages of the year is a great way to attract new wildlife and provide a food source for many different species and animals.

Allow Soil to Settle

Plants are great for attracting wildlife to your garden while also providing a food source for butterflies and moths. While these animals will happily feed on the nectar from most plants, their young may only feed on one or two plant species – for example, brimstone butterflies will only feed and lay eggs on buckthorn bushes. Planting a range of different plants and flowers that flower at different stages of the year is a great way to attract new wildlife and provide a food source for many different species and animals.

Create Habitats

Plants are great for attracting wildlife to your garden while also providing a food source for butterflies and moths. While these animals will happily feed on the nectar from most plants, their young may only feed on one or two plant species – for example, brimstone butterflies will only feed and lay eggs on buckthorn bushes. Planting a range of different plants and flowers that flower at different stages of the year is a great way to attract new wildlife and provide a food source for many different species and animals.

Love your Grass

Plants are great for attracting wildlife to your garden while also providing a food source for butterflies and moths. While these animals will happily feed on the nectar from most plants, their young may only feed on one or two plant species – for example, brimstone butterflies will only feed and lay eggs on buckthorn bushes. Planting a range of different plants and flowers that flower at different stages of the year is a great way to attract new wildlife and provide a food source for many different species and animals.

Trim Bushes at the Best Times

Plants are great for attracting wildlife to your garden while also providing a food source for butterflies and moths. While these animals will happily feed on the nectar from most plants, their young may only feed on one or two plant species – for example, brimstone butterflies will only feed and lay eggs on buckthorn bushes. Planting a range of different plants and flowers that flower at different stages of the year is a great way to attract new wildlife and provide a food source for many different species and animals.

Consider Offering a Water Source

Plants are great for attracting wildlife to your garden while also providing a food source for butterflies and moths. While these animals will happily feed on the nectar from most plants, their young may only feed on one or two plant species – for example, brimstone butterflies will only feed and lay eggs on buckthorn bushes. Planting a range of different plants and flowers that flower at different stages of the year is a great way to attract new wildlife and provide a food source for many different species and animals.

Let Wildlife Control the Pests

Plants are great for attracting wildlife to your garden while also providing a food source for butterflies and moths. While these animals will happily feed on the nectar from most plants, their young may only feed on one or two plant species – for example, brimstone butterflies will only feed and lay eggs on buckthorn bushes. Planting a range of different plants and flowers that flower at different stages of the year is a great way to attract new wildlife and provide a food source for many different species and animals.

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