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Conservation Success as 140 Rare Lizards Return to the Wild

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: September 24, 2021 12:01 am

Sand Lizard Release

A sand lizard is held prior to its release to the wild

Photo Credit: Forestry England

Over 140 endangered sand lizards are once again enjoying life in the wild in a massive boost for the conservation of the threatened species. The individuals were bred by several organizations including Marwell Zoo and Forestry England’s New Forest Reptile Centre as part of an effort led by Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) to return the species from near extinction.

The young lizards made their way on to a forestry property where 200 of the lizards were released last year.

It was an exciting moment for the team with the lizards having been produce despite unfavorable conditions in spring. Many lizards still produced two clutches and a lack of prolonged hot or cold periods provided optimum raising conditions for the eggs.

Sand Lizard Release

Some of the team involved with the release hold crates containing the sand lizards set for a return to the wild

Photo Credit: Forestry England

Unfortunately sand lizard populations have seen considerable declines across England. A recent study by ARC has listed the species as highly endangered but ongoing reintroductions are boosting their numbers.

Individuals for the reintroduction project are bred at  Marwell’s specialist reptile breeding centre, Forestry England’s Reptile Centre, Avon Heath Country Park and by local wildlife specialist Martin Noble. ARC then find suitable sites for them to be released at.

Over 70% of the remaining population occurs in Dorset and ongoing habitat restoration of Forestry England properties is providing additional habitat for releases. These animals require areas of sandy habitat where they can lay their eggs.

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Marwell Wildlife, one of the partners in the project had an exceptional breeding year as Rachel Garden explained, "Our conservation breeding population of sand lizards has had another exceptional year."

"This is Marwell’s thirty third year of involvement with the sand lizard reintroduction project and prior to this we have contributed over 2,200 lizards to releases in the south of England."

Nick Moulton, Reptile Conservation Officer for ARC, said, “We are delighted to be able to release an encouragingly high number of sand lizards again this year. Conservation projects like this rely on the hard work and support of multiple agencies. We are extremely grateful to Forestry England for supporting the releases and their ongoing management of key habitats, and to Marwell Zoo and our breeding partners for their captive breeding expertise and ongoing support of this project.” 

Sand Lizard Release

One of the released sand lizards settles in to its new environment

Photo Credit: Forestry England

Learn more about Lizards here – Lizard Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about Marwell Zoo on their website – Marwell Zoo

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