Monday, 27 April 2009

Wildwood e-news April 2009
In the April edition of Wildwood's e-newsletter we have:
1.   WOLVES LOVE THE TOWELS- Kind donations keep Nadja & Mischka entertained
2.   EASTER HOLIDAY FUN - Book up for Easter events - places going fast!
4.   OWL PELLET ANALYSIS - Learn how to dissect and identify the remains inside
5.   HOUDINI GOATS - New residents at Wildwood
6.   BY THE LIGHT OF A FROG MOON - Moonlight walk at Wildwood
7.   THE WILDWOOD ECOMIND PROJECT - Celebrates £140,000 cash boost
8.   LEAPERS CREEPERS - Come face to face with a toad or snake!
9.   THUMBS UP FOR BEAVER - New report on animals return to UK
10. SPRING/SUMMER EVENTS - New events leaflet available now
11. MINK BACK AT WILDWOOD - Enclosure occupied once more
12. CAN YOU HELP? - Some things we need

1.  WOLVES LOVE THE TOWELS- Kind donations keep Nadja & Mischka entertained
Wildwood recently asked members of the public to provide old towels.
These towels have many uses around the park but one of the main ones is as entertainment for the hand reared wolves as well as the main wolf pack.
Wildwood has since the appeal been inundated with towels from all over Kent.
The towels are soaked in essential oils like lavender or lemon and then dotted around their enclosure.
"Nadja and Mischka love to play with the towels" commented Judy Dunn,  Wildwood Keeper "They are really amusing even getting the towels wrapped round their heads like a turban"
Visitors will see why the park needs so many towels as they do not survive all that long in the enclosures once the wolves start playing with them.

European Wolves Canis lupus
Wolves were last seen in Britain in the 1700s, but they had been respected for their intelligence, hunting skills and the strong family bonds within each wolf pack throughout our early history. When Man ceased to be a fellow hunter and wanted to grow crops and keep livestock, his attitude towards the wolf changed and they became enemies. Forests were burned to flush out the wolves, which were persecuted and killed. It has been suggested that wolves might be reintroduced to Scotland to control red deer numbers, although a feasibility study for the island of Rhum was not followed up. Wildwood has a wild pack and two hand-reared sisters, born in 2000, which are kept separately. The leaders of the pack are a male and female (known as the alpha pair) and these guide the other pack members.

Conservation Status and Distribution:
Currently extinct in Britain, wolves are starting to spread westwards in Europe, despite being hunted, and have recently crossed over the Polish border back into Germany.
Vital Statistics:
Preferred habitat: woods, forests, rocky crags and tundra
Favourite food: deer, wild boar, beaver, rabbits, birds, mice, fruit and nuts
Size: 120-200 cm
Weight: 18-50 kg
Average wild life span: up to 15 years
Breeding: only the main (alpha) pair breeds; the rest of the pack helps to raise the litter
Average no. young: 4-6 pups
Fun facts:
- After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, the Saxon and Norman dead were left on the battlefield for the wolves of the Wealden Forest to scavenge
- Mary, Queen of Scots, was the last British monarch to go on a wolf hunt
- The last British wolf was killed in Scotland in 1743 and wolves were eradicated from Eire shortly afterwards
- In parts of China, villagers still bang cooking pans during a lunar eclipse to stop the giant wolf of heaven from swallowing the sun
- Some Scottish and Irish families are descended from wolves and can still change back when they feel like it
- Wolves' eyes glow in the dark
- Wolves protect the paths of the dead and see travellers safely home
- Wolf teeth rubbed on the gums cures toothache
- The Vikings believed a giant wolf called Fenris would swallow the sun and bring about the end of the rule of the gods, so they chained him to the earth with a magical thread made of secret ingredients, including the breath of a fish and the footfall of cat. But on the day of doom, he broke free and rushed across the sky to capture the sun in his huge jaws. Just as they snapped shut however, the sun gave birth to a shining daughter who slipped between his teeth, soared high out of reach and still provides light today for the world of men.
(Photo credit Martyn Nicholls)

2.   EASTER HOLIDAY FUN - Book up for Easter events - places going fast!

only £2 per person
(One adult per family free)
Must book with Anne
MONDAY 6: Dastardly Dragons! Craft workshop with puppet dragons.
TUESDAYS (7 & 14): Stunning Sea Horses! Craft workshop.
WEDNESDAYS (8 & 15): CSI: Wildwood - Who Killed Mr Bunny? Investigate who murdered the woodland victim using genuine forensic science. 7+ years only.
THURSDAYS?(9 & 16): Animal Weapons! More than teeth and claws, this workshop explores venom, acid and slime too!
FRIDAY 17: Dastardly Dragons! Craft workshop with puppet dragons.
Please call 01227 712111 or e-mail to book now.

As winter comes to an end Wildwood is starting to see the first proof of the arrival of spring amongst those animals that have slept through the cold weather.
Wildwoods frogs, adders and pond tortoises are beginning to wake up from their long hibernation.
The only reptiles who are still asleep are the lizards but as the weather improves they too will start to wake up.
"It is always exciting to see them waking up", commented Cali Bebbington a keeper at Wildwood "We are always concerned that some of them might not survive their hibernation and it is great to see them beginning to move about".
Visitors to the park will start to see them in their enclosures as the weather gets warmer.

More information at Adders
Adder, common viper
Vipera berus
Adders are the most northerly distributed snake - they are the only species found inside the Arctic circle. They are also Britain's only venomous reptile.
There are four subspecies. Vipera berus berus has the greatest range and is the subspecies found in Britain.
Length: 50-65cm. Females are larger than the males.
Physical Description
Adders are relatively short and robust with large heads and a rounded snout. The red-brown eyes have vertical elliptical, rather then round, pupils - a feature of all venomous snakes. Males are usually a grey or buff colour with vivid black markings, although they can also vary from silver to yellow or green in colour. Females are brown with dark red-brown markings that are less prominent than in the males. Both sexes have a zigzag pattern running along the back with a / or X-shaped marking at the rear of the head, although this zigzag pattern may be replaced by a straight brown stripe with dark spots on either side. Adders have black undersides. Melanistic (black) individuals sometimes occur in mountainous regions.
Adders are widespread throughout mainland Britain, but are absent from Ireland. They occur throughout Europe, with the exception of the Mediterranean islands, and across Russia and Asia through to N. China. They are one of the most widespread species of snake.
Adders occupy a variety of habitats, including open woodland, hedgerows, moorland, sand dunes, riverbanks, bogs, heathland and mountains. They prefer undisturbed countryside and can be found in surprisingly wet habitats throughout the summer months.
Adders use venom to immobilise prey such as lizards, amphibians, nestlings and small mammals. After striking their prey, they will leave the venom to take effect before following the victim’s scent to find the body. This is an economical way of hunting, avoiding any damage that could be caused by struggling with prey.
Adders are active during the day, spending time basking until their body temperature is high enough to hunt for food. In some of the hotter countries of their range, they may emerge at dawn and dusk to avoid the intense heat. Mating takes place between April and May, with males often fighting for females. They rear up at each other and try to push the head of their opponent onto the ground. Eventually, one male will give up and search for another mate. Adders hibernate from September to March when temperatures dip below nine degrees Celsius, often using deserted rabbit or rodent burrows, or settling under logs. They sometimes hibernate communally. Males emerge 2-5 weeks before the females and shed their skin before setting off in search of females.
Males follow the females around until she allows them to copulate with her. This takes place in April-May. Adders have a 3 to 4 month gestation period and are one of the few snakes that are viviparous (give birth to live young). In late August females give birth to between 5 and 20 live young, although usually the number is between 6 and 10. The young remain close to their mother for a few days, before going off in search of food. Females do not breed on consecutive years, as they do not have time to build up sufficient fat reserves to produce another set of young from one breeding season to the next.
Conservation status
Adders are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 from being killed, injured or sold.
Adders are not aggressive snakes, and will only attack if harassed or threatened. Although an adder’s venom poses little danger to a healthy adult human, the bite is very painful and requires urgent medical attention.

More facts about the European Pond Tortoise - Emys orbicularis
This olive, brown or black turtle is one of the few freshwater species that live in Europe . Although its appearance varies over its large range, this turtle is usually easily identifiable by the bright yellow or gold speckling on the dark carapace and skin of many juveniles and adults, an attractive feature that makes it sought after in the pet trade. However, some populations can be nearly entirely black with very few yellow markings at all. In general, individuals from the north of the range tend to be markedly larger and darker than their southern counterparts . The colour of the male's iris also varies per region, from red, brownish-yellow and yellow to pure white, while the eyes of females are generally yellow, occasionally white. There are currently 14 described regional subspecies, which differ in size, colour and markings , although there is still much debate over the validity of these divisions.
It lives in and around slow-flowing water and hibernates for up to seven months of the year at the bottom of the water.
Although the European pond turtle will bask on the shore or on floating logs/emerging objects during the day, this shy species will dive back into the water if disturbed. The species hunts underwater for fish, amphibians, tadpoles, worms, molluscs, crustaceans and aquatic insects, as well as foraging for the occasional plant . The diverse climatic conditions of its extensive distribution means that, in the northern parts of its range, this turtle is forced to hibernate for long periods during the cold winter months, while in warmer, more southerly areas, it often aestivates (Dormancy similar to hibernation) to escape the summer's heat.
The European pond turtle usually emerges from hibernation by around the end of March, and mating begins from March to May, depending on the latitude. 3 to 16 eggs, usually 9 or 10, are laid in May and June in small holes dug in the ground. The incubation period varies from around 57 to 90 days, and young may emerge in autumn or stay in the nest until the following spring. In the northern parts of its range, a long hot summer is required for eggs to hatch, so this turtle may only successfully reproduce one in every four or five years. Since the life span of this long-lived turtle can exceed over 100 years, however, there are a number of potential opportunities to successfully produce young. Like many turtle species, the sex of offspring is dependent upon the incubation temperature, with females only produced at 28°C or higher.
Fossil remains in the UK show that European Pond Tortoises were in the UK 700,000 years ago.

How to Attract Frogs
The best way to attract frogs is to recreate their favourite habitat in your garden. Here are some general tips to help you build a frog-friendly pond:
* Easy Access to the Water. A pond with sloped sides is necessary to allow the frogs to easily get in and out of the pond. Using a flexible pond liner to build a frog pond that gradually slopes from shallow to deep is best. A pre-formed plastic liner can be used but you must place rocks or other items in the water in such a was as to make a ramp for the frogs to get in and out. The pond does not have to be overly large, though.
* Skip the Aeration, Filtration and Water Falls. Frogs like quiet, still water.
* No Fish. Fish are natural predators of frogs, especially eggs and tadpoles.
* Add Plants In and Around the Pond. A variety of water plants such as water lilies help to provide cover, shade and a more natural environment. Likewise, provide plants around the pond for shelter and shade. In addition, let the grass grow longer around the pond for extra cover. The plants in and around the pond will attract insects and other organisms that frogs feed on. native plants are always best.
* Don't Keep it Too Clean. Remember most natural ponds are not sparkling clean. Organic matter in the water helps create natural conditions and feeds the natural prey for the frogs. Algae in the pond also nourishes tadpoles.
* Provide Extra Shelter. Place a couple of clay plant pots, on their side and partly buried, to provide extra shelter and shade. Remember frogs like it damp and cool, and also need places to hide from predators.
* Minimize Predators. If you have dogs and cats, try to limit their access to the pond area. You may want to put a wire fence around the pond area to help keep predators away.
* Keep it Chemical Free. Frogs are very sensitive to pollutants and you do not want to use garden chemicals in your yard that might ultimately hurt the frogs.
Once you have built the perfect pond, it may take a while for it to become well-established and for local frogs to find it. Resist the temptation to catch frogs to put in your pond, as adult frogs have established a home and may try to return to it. If it is legal, you may try catching tadpoles to put in your pond, but check you local wildlife laws as collecting tadpoles is illegal in many places.

4.   OWL PELLET ANALYSIS - Learn how to dissect and identify the remains inside
  Saturday April 25 9:30-12:30pm
Short course on how to dissect owl pellets and identify the small ammmal remains inside.
Cost £15 must book with Hazel on 01227 712111

5.   HOUDINI GOATS - New residents at Wildwood
Visitors to Wildwood may have noticed the newest arrivals living in an enclosure close to the Badgers.
They are feral goats who have been re-housed after they had made a number of successful escape attempts from their former home.
Wildwood was contacted to see if the park could help with the two houdinis as their previous owners were worried they may get hurt if they ran into a road.
The enclosure was beefed up to make sure that they cannot escape and they are settling in to their new surroundings really well.
The two goats and their offspring will be part of the education work that Wildwood does with the opportunity for school groups and others to get close to an animal.
"The two goats are settling in well" commented Paul Wirdnam Head Keeper at Wildwood "but we know these two have escaped before so we will be keeping a close eye on the enclosure to make sure that they have no opportunity to get out"

Facts about Goats
The domestic goat (Capra aegagrus hircus) is a subspecies of goat domesticated from the wild goat of Southwest Asia and Eastern Europe. The goat is a member of the Bovidae family and is closely related to the sheep: both are in the goat antelope subfamily Caprinae. There are over three hundred distinct breeds of goats.
Goats are one of the oldest domesticated species. For thousands of years, goats have been used for their milk, meat, hair, and skins over much of the world. In the twentieth century they also gained in popularity as pets.
Female goats are referred to as does or nannies, intact males as bucks or billies; their offspring are kids. Castrated males are wethers. Goat meat from younger animals is called kid, and from older animals is sometimes called chevon, or in some areas “mutton”.


The Modern English word "goat" comes from the Old English gat which meant "she-goat", and this in turn derived from Proto-Germanic *gaitaz (compare Old Norse and Dutch geit (meaning "goat"), German Geiß ("she-goat") and Gothic gaits, ("goat") ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *ghaidos meaning "young goat" but also "play" (compare Latin haedus meaning "kid"). The word for "male goat" in Old English was bucca (which survives as "buck", meaning certain male herbivores) until a shift to "he-goat" (and also "she-goat") occurred in the late 12th century. "Nanny goat" originated in the 18th century and "billy goat" in the 19th.


The most recent genetic analysis confirms the archaeological evidence that the Anatolian Zagros are the likely origin of almost all domestic goats today. Neolithic farmers began to keep them for easy access to milk and meat, primarily, also for their dung, which was used as fuel and their bones, hair, and sinew for clothing, building, and tools. Domestic goats were generally kept in herds that wandered on hills or other grazing areas, often tended by goatherds who were frequently children or adolescents, similar to the more widely known shepherd. These methods of herding are still used today.
Historically, goat hide has been used for water and wine bottles in both traveling and transporting wine for sale. It has also been used to produce parchment.


Most goats naturally have two horns, of various shapes and sizes depending on the breed. While horns are a predominantly male feature, some breeds of goats have horned females. Polled (hornless goats) are not uncommon and there have been incidents of polycerate goats (having as many as eight horns), although this is a genetic rarity thought to be inherited. Their horns are made of living bone surrounded by keratin and other proteins and are used for defense, dominance, and territoriality.
Goats are ruminants. They have a four-chambered stomach consisting of the rumen, the reticulum, the omasum, and the abomasum.
Goats have horizontal slit-shaped pupils, an adaptation which increases peripheral depth perception. Because goats' irises are usually pale, the pupils are much more visible than in animals with horizontal pupils but very dark irises, such as sheep, cattle and most horses.


Goats are reputed to be willing to eat almost anything. The digestive systems of a goat allow nearly any organic substance to be broken down and used as nutrients.
Contrary to this reputation, they are quite fastidious in their habits, preferring to browse on the tips of woody shrubs and trees, as well as the occasional broad leaved plant. However, it can fairly be said that goats will eat almost anything in the botanical world. Their plant diet is extremely varied and includes some species which are otherwise toxic. They will seldom consume soiled food or contaminated water unless facing starvation. This is one of the reasons why goat rearing is most often free ranging since stall-fed goat rearing involves extensive upkeep and is seldom commercially viable.
Goats do not usually consume garbage or clothing, although they will occasionally eat items made primarily of plant material, which can include wood. They have an intensely inquisitive and intelligent nature: they will explore anything new or unfamiliar in their surroundings. They do so primarily with their prehensile upper lip and tongue. This is why they investigate items such as buttons, camera cases or clothing (and many other things besides) by nibbling at them, occasionally even eating them. Goats prefer to graze on shrubbery and weeds for food. Goats graze more like deer than sheep, preferring woody shrubs rather than grasses. Mould in a goat's feed can make it sick and possibly kill it. Nightshade is also poisonous; wilted fruit tree leaves can also kill goats. Goats should not be fed grass with any signs of mold. Silage (corn stalks) is not good for goats, but haylage can be used if consumed immediately after opening. Alfalfa is their favourite hay, fescue the least palatable and least nutritious.
Goats will consume, on average, 4.5 units of dry matter per 100 units of body-weight per day.


Goats establish a dominance hierarchy in flocks, sometimes through head butting
Goats are extremely curious and intelligent. They are easily housebroken and trained to pull carts and walk on leads. Ches McCartney, nicknamed "the goat man", toured the United States for over three decades in a wagon pulled by a herd of pet goats. They are also known for escaping their pens. Goats will test fences, either intentionally or simply because they are handy to climb on. If any of the fencing can be spread, pushed over or down, or otherwise be overcome, the goats will escape. Being very intelligent, once a weakness in the fence has been exploited, it will be repeatedly exploited until they determine it can no longer be overcome. Goats are very coordinated and can climb and hold their balance in the most precarious places. Goats are also widely known for their ability to climb trees, although the tree generally has to be on somewhat of an angle.

Religion, mythology, and folklore

According to Norse mythology, the god of thunder, Thor, has a chariot that is pulled by the goats Tanngrisnir and Tanngnjóstr. At night when he sets up camp, Thor eats the meat of the goats, but take care that all bones remain whole. Then he wraps the remains up, and in the morning, the goats always come back to life to pull the chariot. When a bog among a farmer family who are invited to share the meal breaks one of the goats' leg bones to suck the marrow however, the animal's leg remains broken in the morning, and the human is forced to serve Thor as a servant to compensate for the damage.
The goat is one of the twelve-year cycle of animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac related to the Chinese calendar. Each animal is associated with certain personality traits; those born in a year of the goat are predicted to be shy, introverted, creative, and perfectionist.
Several mythological hybrid creatures are believed to consist of parts of the goat, including the Chimera . The Capricorn sign in the Western zodiac is usually depicted as a goat with a fish's tail. Fauns and satyrs are mythological creatures that are part goat and part human. The mineral bromine is named from the Greek word "bromos", which means "stench of he-goats."
Christianity has associated Satan with imagery of goats. A common superstition in the Middle Ages was that goats whispered lewd sentences in the ears of the saints. The origin of this belief was probably the behavior of the buck in rut, the very epitome of lust. The common medieval depiction of the Devil was that of a goat-like face with horns and small beard. The Black Mass, a probably-mythological "Satanic mass," was said to involve a black goat, the form in which Satan supposedly manifested himself for worship.
In 2009, a car thief was accused of turning into a goat in Nigeria.
(Photo credit Martyn Nicholls)

6.   BY THE LIGHT OF A FROG MOON - Moonlight walk at Wildwood
Full moons have traditionally been given names and April's full moon is known as the frog moon by some Native American Indian tribes. The name derives from the fact that at this time of year, the frogs (and other animals) return from their hibernation and can be heard croaking.
Wildwood, Kent's award winning woodland discovery park, offers an opportunity to tour Wildwood by the moonlight of a frog moon on Thursday April 9th, (clouds allowing) 7.30pm -10.00pm and experience the woodlands and the animals that live here at a time when the darkness belongs to them.
Night tours, led by Wildwood staff are an excellent way to see our nocturnal wildlife, so you will get the opportunity to see badgers snuffling, watch owls wide awake, experience the silent padding of the wolves (and if you are very lucky them howling).
Night tours are open to anyone over the age of 10 years (children must be accompanied by a responsible adult). They are scheduled to last approximately 2 hours and happen monthly from February to December. The tour includes a meal in our restaurant before venturing out into the park with a Wildwood staff member.
Places MUST be booked in advance by completing and returning a booking form, together with full payment of £20 per person - unfortunately, though you can reserve a place by telephone, a booking form is still required. Places will be allocated on receipt of a completed booking form and payment, strictly on a first come, first served basis.
You can download a Booking form from the following links to our website
(Photo credit Al Tuttle)

7.   THE WILDWOOD ECOMIND PROJECT - Celebrates £140,000 cash boost
The Wildwood Trust has been informed that they have been successful in their application for £140,000 of funding from grants scheme Ecominds.  The generous donation will be used to bring together the skills of mental health service providers, charities and the Wildwood Trust, to create a project of woodland management, rare species and animal care, and provide mental health service users with environmental skills that promote mental and physical wellbeing for people with mental health problems.  

The grant has been awarded by Ecominds, a scheme delivered by the mental health charity Mind with £7.5m of funding from the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme. Ecominds is helping thousands of people across the country to improve their mental wellbeing by encouraging them to get outdoors and get active.
Research by Mind has found that this type of ecotherapy can be highly beneficial to people with mental health problems.  In a recent study, after just one country walk, 90 per cent of participants had increased self-esteem and 7 per cent reported decreased feelings of depression.  

The Wildwood Trust will help to give people with mental health problems a rewarding project to work on, providing support and social skills while developing skills for future employment.  

One in four people experience mental distress yet there is still a lot of stigma about mental health problems. Social contact has been shown to be the most important factor in gaining better understanding. By improving local environments, Ecominds hopes to promote the inclusion of people with mental health problems into their communities, breaking down barriers and helping to combat mental health discrimination.

Overjoyed at the announcement, Beth Flowers, Wildwood Fund Raising Officer said: "The grant that we have received will be invaluable in helping to transform the lives of Kent’s residents who are experiencing mental distress.  We can't wait to get started on the Wildwood Ecomind Project and look forward to improving our local environment for everyone to enjoy."

Barry Watts, Grants Manager of Ecominds said “What we liked about this project was that we could see how it would directly benefit the future of people with mental health problems, teaching skills and providing a vital support network. It will be great to follow the progress of this project and watch the funding be put to very good use in the Kent community.”

Ecominds has a total of £7.5million to distribute to about 120 new and existing projects over the 5 years.  Any group or organisation based in England and working on a not-for-profit basis can apply. To request an application pack or to find out more telephone 0845 367 1671, visit the website at or write to Ecominds, 15-19 Broadway, Stratford, London E15 4B

8.  LEAPERS CREEPERS - Come face to face with a toad or snake!
Sunday April 26 11am-3pm
Meet some of our native reptiles and amphibians with the British Herpetological Society - Free,  just drop in.
Please note that access to this event is only permitted if membership or entry to the park has been paid.
(Photo credit Prof Stuart Harrop)

9.   THUMBS UP FOR BEAVER - New report on animals return to UK
In a major new report the UK’s leading experts and government advisors give the thumbs up to the beaver returning to the UK.
The report sets out the key benefits to welcoming this once native species back to our rivers and wetlands and shows how beaver will reduce flooding, purify our water and bring threatened species back to our waterways.
Peter Smith, Chief Executive of Wildwood Trust, who contributed to the report, welcomed its findings. "More than 20 other countries, including France, Germany and Denmark have reintroduced beavers and their experience has been very positive, with minimal damage to agriculture and other interests. Beaver would improve water quality, produce new habitats for fish and help reduce flooding downstream.”
Peter Smith commented further: “In these times of economic hardship the reintroduction of beaver will help stop wasting hundreds of millions of pounds on costly flood defences to protect our homes from flooding and water purification to safeguard our drinking water”
Leading  wildlife charities, Wildwood Trust and Kent Wildlife Trust have pioneered the restoration of beaver in the UK by bring beaver families to live on the Kent Wildlife Trust Ham Fen Nature Reserve, near Sandwich, Kent. These beaver are living on a 70 acre fenced nature reserve, one of the last fenlands in the South East of England.
The full report can be view online at or
This news story was picked up up by a number of organisations including Channel 4 News who came to Wildwood and filmed. The camera man took one of the beaver chewed sticks back with him for Jon Snow.
As busy as a Beaver is not an idle term, beaver act a keystone species which means beaver act as a natural nature reserve wardens, managing and protecting their surrounding habitat. And after learning from the many European successes Kent Wildlife Trust decided that European Beaver where the best hope to restore a fragile wetland habitat of Ham Fen.
Their skills as foresters and engineers can create and sustain standing water and wetlands that increase biodiversity, purify water and prevent large-scale flooding.
Scientist estimate that in America restoring only 3 percent of the original, beaver created, wetlands might suffice to prevent catastrophic floods; the same could be true for the UK and beaver could prove to be the best solution to large scale flooding and climate change.
The Government own advisers have come down on the side of beaver and have recommended  that they should be reintroduced to the UK, Scottish Natural History's director of science, Colin Galbraith, said: "More than 20 other countries, including France, Germany and Denmark have reintroduced beavers and the experience has been very positive. Beavers fit into the landscape very well and in places like Brittany they have become part of the environment, with minimal damage to agriculture and other interests.
"Beaver dams would improve water quality, produce new habitats for fish and help reduce flooding downstream."
European Beaver, not to be confused with its American cousin, was native throughout Britain until man hunted them to extinction in the 17th Century.
Since that time the beaver was wiped out across mainland Europe. But thanks to the unstinting efforts of conservationist through Europe beaver have slowly been reintroduced. Now Britain stands as the last European country to be without the benefits of having this wonderful creature restoring and managing its natural inland waterways.
The Kent Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve at Ham Fen is one of the Last fenlands in the South East of England. After many years, and huge cost, trying to restore its wildlife value using heavy machinery, the Trust’s conservation managers, lead by John McAllister, concluded that it could be achieved at a much cheaper cost and more effectively by the use of the once native European beaver as a conservation management tool.
This project has been conducted with in consultation with leading scientific advice and the authorisation of all relevant statutory bodies.
The future of conservation: as our wild lands become ever more fragmented and degraded wildlife is dying out at a frightening pace. One of the key issues facing nature conservationists is the fact that at the moment our wildlife is only holding on thanks to the dedication of volunteers and the tiny input of paid professionals. It has become very apparent to leading conservationist that if we are to protect our wildlife for the future then we must restore natural ecological systems to our wild places. This will need the use of ' keystone' species such as beaver or large semi-wild grazing animals to mange nature. This process will be much more sustainable as it will decrease the need of resources.
If we are to match the successes of our European partners then we must put more effort into the creation of Near Natural areas. Kent Wildlife Trust has to take forward the debate whereby our farmland and nature areas developed to create a self sustaining environment that matches ancient habitats and created a safe secure ecosystem for wildlife to thrive for many generations to come.
1. Help save otters, water voles, fish & a huge range of threatened wildlife
2. Protect our land and towns from catastrophic flooding
3. Create diverse wildlife rich wetlands
4. Improves water quality
1. Beaver eat only plants NOT fish
2. European Beaver rarely build dams like their North American Cousins
3. European beaver are completely harmless to man
4. European Beaver have NO significant impact on agriculture
5. Beavers live side by side with man all over the European mainland
Distribution: Throughout Europe and Asia Recently reintroduced across Europe. The European Beaver cousin the North American Beaver exists throughout Canada, USA and Mexico Main threats: Habitat loss and hunting for the fur trade .
Preferred habitat: rivers, lakes and swamps Favourite food: aspen and willow bark, freshwater plants and herbs,  Size: 105-130 cm,  Weight:18-38 kg,  Life span: 7-8 years, Breeding: The female gives birth to 1to 3 Kits once every year, mates for life and only one female breeds per colony,  Performance: This specialised water animals can build dams 300m long and cut down a tree up to 1.5 meters in diameter, although they rarely do this. Can hold breath underwater for 15 mins.
(Photo credit Keven Law & Channel 4 News)

10. SPRING/SUMMER EVENTS - New events leaflet available now
The latest events leaflet for Spring/Summer 2009 covering May to September is now available on line.
Use the links below to download your copy today.

11. MINK BACK AT WILDWOOD - Enclosure occupied once more
Wildwood has welcomed another new resident.
Dink the Mink is now living in the refurbished enclosure that had been the home for Zed the Mink who died of old age last year.
The enclosure has had two new ponds built by the Ranger Team and has been completed for some weeks waiting for the new inhabitants.
Trapped from the wild,  Dink was introduced to her new home after getting a full health check by our vet.
"She is very confident" commented Cali Bebbington a Keeper at Wildwood "considering she was in the wild only days ago she has made herself right at home".
Though on her own at the moment she will be joined shortly by a male and they will both be part of a research project to test monitoring equipment so that scientists can better understand what Mink are doing in the wild. This is very important as the mink is one of the major causes of the fall in water vole populations since it escaped into the British countryside.

American Mink - Mustela vison
The mink is a medium-sized member of the weasel family. The first American mink were brought to British fur farms in 1929 and all wild mink in Britain today are descendants of escapees. The natural wild colouring is a glossy dark brown, appearing almost black in some light. Commercial farming selectively bred much paler colours, hence most of those in the wild in Britain are a lighter brown. Mink spend up to 80% of their time in their dens, sleeping, grooming and eating food they have carried home. Frequently found near water, they are often mistaken for otters, although mink are in fact considerably smaller.
Mink are a major factor in the decimation of the water vole population, because they are small enough to follow their prey down its burrow.
Male: length of head/body 42 cm plus tail18 cm.Female: length of head/body 36 cm plus tail 15 cm
Elongated body, relatively short legs, limited webbing between the toes, glossy dark brown coat, commonly white fur patches on chin, throat, chest and groin.
May be seen on every kind of waterway, streams, rivers, and canals,but are capable of living away from water provided prey, such as rabbits, small mammals and birds, is available.
Delayed implantation delays the 30 day gestation period to 39 - 42 days. Kits are born in a den lined with vegetation in April - May. One litter, 4 - 6 young. At 10 weeks they cease to depend on their mother for food. They learn to hunt with their mother. In August they disperse in search of their own territories. Females settle within 5 km of their place of birth, males 10 km May have 2 - 10 dens close to their favourite hunting grounds, usually made in the eroded roots of oaks, sycamores or willows.
Rabbits, ducks, water voles, shrews, fish, frogs, crayfish, eels, moorhens, rats, birds and eggs are all taken by the mink.

12. CAN YOU HELP? - Some things we need
During the recent work on the car park Wildwood has placed the soil dug out around the park to create new grassed areas. If you have any grass seed that you no longer need we could really do with it.
Please also do not forget about our Spring Cleaning appeal that was sent out earlier this month by the Education Department on things that they could use for schools and other groups. If you did not receive that e-mail then contact Martyn by e-mail at and a copy will be sent.

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Martyn Nicholls
Press Officer
Wildwood Trust
Tel: 01227 712111
Wildwood Trust
Herne Common
Herne Bay
Registered Charity No 1093702
Wildwood Trust is Kent's unique 'Woodland Discovery Park', a visitor attraction with a difference.
Wildwood is not only the best place to bring the family for a day out, but it is also a bold and innovative new charity, backed by the UK's leading wildlife conservationists. As a new charity Wildwood needs everyone's support in its mission to save our native and once native wildlife from extinction.
Wildwood Trust's vision is to bring back our true 'wildwood', a unique new way of restoring Britain's land to its natural state. This involves releasing large wild herbivores and developing conservation grazing systems to restore natural ecological processes to help Britain team with wildlife again.
The Wildwood 'Woodland Discovery Park' is an ideal day out for all the family where you can come 'nose to nose' with British Wildlife. Wildwood offers its members and visitors a truly inspirational way to learn about the natural history of Britain by actually seeing the wildlife that once lived here.
Set in a sublime 38 acres of Ancient Woodland, Wildwood offers visitors a truly unique experience. Come Nose to Nose with our secretive badgers, experience what it is like to be hunted by a real live pack of wolves, watch a charging wild boar or track down a beaver in his lodge.
Wildwood Trust runs a highly successful programme of Conservation Projects
- we are the UK's leading experts in rescuing and re-establishing colonies of Britain's most threatened mammal, the water vole. Wildwood Trust has pioneered the use of ancient wild horses to restore nature reserve. Wildwood Trust has been at the forefront of efforts to re-establish the European Beaver back in Britain where they belong. European Beaver have been proven to help manage water ways to bring back a huge range of plants, insects and animals.

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