Whether it’s plants or animals, big or small, ugly or cute, native species are really important to us here at Knowsley Safari! We’re investigating exactly which Great British species’ call Knowsley Safari home, so we regularly monitor our native wildlife to build up a bigger picture of local biodiversity. This research helps us to manage each area of the park, support natural habitats and protect the plants and animals that live there.
Although this is work that’s been going on at Knowsley Safari for years, the next 18 months will be especially important to our work. Let it Grow is a campaign hosted by the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) for local biodiversity uniting zoological collections, botanic gardens and science centres across Europe. Our findings will help contribute towards Let it Grow’s mission to make our communities into havens for native species of animals, plants and all other forms of life.
Our first session of the year was to monitor our small mammal population, and was performed in conjunction with National Museums Liverpool, as well as the Lancashire, Manchester, and North Merseyside Wildlife Trust. Sharing expertise, resources and man power makes a task much easier!
A team of six dedicated researchers spent a cold, wet night filling non-lethal traps with bedding and food, so any animals we caught were comfortable until we came back to check on them the next morning. With 48 traps set, the team headed home to catch as much sleep as possible before our early start the following day.
Our excitement to see what had made its way into our traps overnight made the early start much more manageable. Happily, we were not disappointed with our findings – we found a wood mouse sheltering in the first set of traps we’d set! She was the first of many wood mice – we even found some bank voles! We gathered some great information from these animals, and each individual we captured was released as soon as we had identified them, sexed them and made a note of where they were found.
We were pleased to find these two small mammal species in our first monitoring event of the year, but we know they’re only the tip of the iceberg! As the season progresses through the year, we will have much more to report about small mammals, such as the mice and voles, larger mammals like hares and all sorts of other local biodiversity.
Keep an eye out for events you can get involved with in the coming months. Help us Let it Grow!
[Image credit: Bridget Murray – Knowsley Safari, Research Officer]