Participating Project

Project information

Save Our Red Squirrels

Wildwood will be rescuing red squirrels from certain extinction through targeted captive breeding and reintroductions. The squirrels will be bred at our wildlife conservation park in Kent, with the young being released to designated reintroduction sites in Wales and Anglesey.

December 2018 - December 2019

Charity information: Wildwood Trust

Wildwood Trust logo
  • Need

    Need

    Red squirrel numbers have been devastated over the past century and will continue to decline towards extinction unless urgent action is taken. We face the risk of this beautiful creature disappearing completely from our countryside and must act now to safeguard their future. The red squirrel is our only native squirrel species, now vastly outnumbered by the invasive grey squirrel. Without immediate conservation the species is expected to be completely wiped out in Britain by 2030.

    Solution

    Wildwood will run extensive breeding programmes and liaise with reintroduction organisations to ensure the red squirrel maintains its presence in our countryside. Specially designed breeding enclosures will be utilised at Wildwood to encourage reproduction from breeding pairs; the young can then be released at designated sites across the country. Wildwood will be working in conjunction with other organisations to choose suitable reintroduction sites and ensure the success of this project.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Support wild red squirrel populations with regular releases.


    Activities

    » Breed red squirrels at Wildwood Trust for release.
    » Work in conjunction with reintroduction organisations to support our releases and ensure maximum chances of success.

    What success will look like

    Success will be breeding all five possible pairs and releasing the kits through a reintroduction programme, hopefully 8-10 red squirrels depending on litter size.


    Aim 2

    Improve the red squirrel captive breeding facilities at Wildwood Trust.


    Activities

    » Refurbish current breeding enclosures that are tired and worn down.
    » Build a new breeding enclosure to increase the number of breeding pairs we can hold at one time.

    What success will look like

    We will measure the success of this aim by ensuring we reach the full capacity of red squirrel breeding pairs possible at Wildwood, five pairs.


  • Impact

    Impact

    The project will reverse the decline in red squirrels in our country and bolster the gene pool of existing populations to ensure their longevity. We will demonstrate the success of this project by monitoring populations where we have reintroduced red squirrels. Success will be if these populations no longer need further reintroductions as they have established a self-sustaining population with sufficient diversity in the gene pool.

    Risk

    There is a risk that the red squirrels don’t breed and we would have no kits to be released. This risk has been mitigated by having five breeding pairs, so in the event of unsuccessful breeding in any of the pairs there will still be kits to be released. Another risk is the introduction of diseases to populations of red squirrels where we conduct reintroductions. All our squirrels are screened by vets before release to ensure they aren’t carrying any potentially harmful diseases or viruses.

    Reporting

    Donors to this project will have the option to receive a quarterly report via email detailing the ongoing and forthcoming activities as well as any exciting news regarding the future of the project or the state of red squirrels in the wild.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £20,000

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      Amount Heading Description
      £10,000 Breeding enclosures Costs to cover the addition of one more breeding enclosure as well as repairs and refurbishment.
      £6,000 Vet bills Vet bills for five breeding pairs and their kits over one year.
      £2,000 Husbandry costs Costs for the care and feeding of five breeding pairs and their kits.
      £2,000 Red squirrel transport Transport costs of relocating red squirrel kits from Wildwood to release sites.

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Chapman Charitable Trust £2,000 Guaranteed
    Miss Edith Mary Sage Charitable Trust £2,000 Guaranteed
    William Dean Countryside and Educational Trust £500 Guaranteed
    Robert Kiln Charitable Trust £100 Guaranteed
  • Background

    Location

    The captive breeding will take place at our nature conservation park in Kent, situated between Canterbury and Herne Bay. Red squirrels have been extinct in Kent since the 1960s, so the chance to see our breeding pairs is a fantastic opportunity for any people who will never have seen them in the wild. Our local community has high levels of deprivation, with many people suffering from reduced exposure to nature. This makes the opportunities offered by Wildwood even more valuable.

    Beneficiaries

    Local schoolchildren, groups who cater those with social or special needs (who visit Wildwood for free), conservationists and members of the public will all benefit from the chance to see and learn about red squirrels which are now extinct in Kent, and hopefully will be able to see them again in the wild in the future. Our ecosystems will benefit from the reintroduction of this native species which works tirelessly to spread seeds and encourage forest growth.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Wildwood has been successfully breeding red squirrels for 16 years, as well as having been involved in many reintroduction programmes over that time. We have the knowledge and experience to ensure the success of this programme, whilst also providing a platform to educate our visitors about the plight of this beautiful animal as it struggles against extinction.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.

    People

    Judi Dunn

    Judi is a Wildwood Keeper and is responsible for the squirrels, their breeding and release. Her knowledge and passion are key in delivering our aims.

    Peter Smith

    Peter is instrumental in our conservation programmes as he sources sites for reintroduction and liaises with other organisations to ensure success.