Britain’s rarest species of lizard released into the wild in Hampshire
A conservation group has released 80 juvenile sand lizards, one of the UK’s rarest reptiles, back into the wild in Hampshire.
Marwell Wildlife, led by PhD student Rachel Gardner, released the lizards at the Eelmoor Marsh Site of Special Scientific Interest near Farnborough as part of a three-year release plan and research project.
Radio tags weighing less than 0.3 grams were used to assess animal activity, and the lizards were tracked upon release into the wild.
The research included assessing the behavior, habitat use, and survival of individuals, which are uniquely identifiable by their spotting patterns.
Ms Gardner said: ‘We have seen some unexpected behavior, for example some people have moved more than a hundred meters from the release site in just a few weeks.
“Given the size of the animals [a few centimetres long] and the complexity of the moorland environment, that’s quite a distance in such a short time.
Once common in the moors of southern England, sand lizard numbers have declined due to habitat loss, and they are now found in only a handful of sites in southern England, the UK. of Wales and Merseyside.
Marwell Wildlife, as part of its conservation programme, has now brought the total number of sand lizards reintroduced to Eelmoor Marsh to over 240 individuals, with the aim of establishing a self-sustaining population.
Ms Gardner said: “It has been a privilege to work on this project and observe the sand lizards in such detail.
“We hope the research will help inform and make recommendations for the reintroduction protocol in the future, and therefore optimize its conservation success.”