White-clawed crayfish thrive in monkey moat!
Tuesday 7 March 2006
The white-clawed crayfish rescued by conservationists at the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) are flourishing in their new Whipsnade homes and have even begun to breed.
ZSL conservationists, together with Amanda Proud of the Ivel and Ouse Countryside Project, carried out a recent survey of Whipsnade’s chimp moat and were delighted to find a female white-clawed crayfish carrying eggs, highlighting the success of the project to conserve the endangered crustaceans.
The last remaining wild population of white-clawed crayfish in Bedfordshire were saved from the threat of extinction in September 2005, when they were moved from the last Bedfordshire site to new homes in the chimp and lemur moats at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park. The project is being delivered in partnership by ZSL, the Ivel and Ouse Countryside project and the Bedfordshire Wildlife Trust.
White-clawed crayfish are the only native crayfish in Britain and are threatened by transmission of crayfish plague from the introduced signal crayfish. Crayfish plague has devastated British populations of white-clawed crayfish and, with less than 200 populations left in the UK, urgent action is needed to conserve them.
Emily Funnell, UK Native Species Programme Manager for the Zoological Society of London, said, “ZSL is dedicated to native species conservation and to safeguarding the future of this species in Bedfordshire. This excellent news means that not only are the crayfish surviving in the chimp moat, but they are breeding as well.”
ZSL will be carrying out regular surveys and hope to find white-clawed crayfish living in even greater numbers at Whipsnade in the future.
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Notes to editors
Signal crayfish carry crayfish plague but do not usually suffer from the disease themselves. The native white-clawed crayfish is very susceptible to the disease, however, and whole populations can be wiped out in a very short period of time.
Signal crayfish not only carry the plague, but are larger and more aggressive than white-clawed crayfish and therefore out-compete them for food and habitat. Signal crayfish can colonise new river systems very rapidly, and are already in the Bedfordshire river system.
Joanna Green - 020 7449 6236 - firstname.lastname@example.org