Advertisement

New Island conservation centre for rare and endangered species

Endangered white-clawed crayfish at the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary in Sandown <i>(Image: Hampshire and IW Wildlife Trust/Wildheart Animal Sanctuary)</i>
Endangered white-clawed crayfish at the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary in Sandown (Image: Hampshire and IW Wildlife Trust/Wildheart Animal Sanctuary)

A new conservation centre on the Isle of Wight will become a key part of a programme aiming to secure the future of a rare and endangered species.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, working with the Bristol Zoological Society, has released white-clawed crayfish into the facility at the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary in Sandown, where it is hoped Britain’s only native crayfish species will thrive.

The centre is the first of its kind on the Island and will play a significant role in the Trust’s 'Southern Chalkstreams' project, which aims to protect our area’s globally unique chalksteam habitats.

It is intended that crayfish raised at the centre will be released into safe havens or ark sites in Hampshire, boosting the wild population.

Isle of Wight County Press: Dr Ben Rushbrook, principal ecologist at Hampshire and IW Wildlife Trust, with white-clawed crayfish at Wildheart
Isle of Wight County Press: Dr Ben Rushbrook, principal ecologist at Hampshire and IW Wildlife Trust, with white-clawed crayfish at Wildheart

Dr Ben Rushbrook, principal ecologist at Hampshire and IW Wildlife Trust, with white-clawed crayfish at Wildheart (Image: Hampshire and IW Wildlife Trust)

The new facility, due to open in early 2024, allows for the potential to house berried (egg-carrying) female crayfish in the future, increasing the security of white-clawed crayfish in the region and creating the possibility of establishing this endangered species on the Island.

Dr Jen Nightingale, UK conservation manager from the Bristol Zoological Society, said: “It is very exciting to be working with the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary and Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust.

“I am truly delighted that Bristol Zoological Society has brought the endangered, white-clawed crayfish to the Isle of Wight.

“The team at Wildheart have worked tirelessly to create a fabulous crayfish centre and display for the animals, which will fascinate and inspire visitors to the Sanctuary.”

Isle of Wight County Press: Endangered white-clawed crayfish at Wildheart
Isle of Wight County Press: Endangered white-clawed crayfish at Wildheart

Endangered white-clawed crayfish at Wildheart (Image: Hampshire and IW Wildlife Trust)

Lisa Banfield, conservation and research officer at the Wildheart Trust, said: “We are very excited to be hosting the first and only white-clawed crayfish facility on the Isle of Wight at the Wildheart Animal Sanctuary.

“We have been planning and preparing for this for around nine months, so it is great to finally have the crayfish with us!

“Our crayfish conservation facility is one of the few in the country that the public will be able to visit. It will offer our visitors a unique experience, giving a close-up look at these fascinating aquatic invertebrates when it opens in 2024.”