Endangered crayfish breed at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo
Monday 20 March 2006
The endangered white-clawed crayfish introduced to Whipsnade last year are surviving in their new home and have even begun to breed.
The white-clawed crayfish is the only native crayfish in Britain and is increasingly under threat from crayfish plague carried by the introduced signal crayfish. With less than 200 populations left in the UK, urgent action is needed to conserve our native crayfish.
In September 2005, ZSL conservationists moved the last remaining wild population of white-clawed crayfish in Bedfordshire to a safe new location at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. This move was essential for the survival of the crayfish, as introduced signal crayfish will soon colonise the stretch of river that the crayfish originally inhabited – bringing with them the deadly crayfish plague.
The crayfish were introduced to the chimp moat at Whipsnade and a recent survey has revealed that a female white-clawed crawfish is carrying eggs, highlighting the success of the project to conserve the endangered crustaceans.
Emily Funnell, ZSL programme manager said:
'ZSL is dedicated to native species conservation and hopes that regular surveys of the chimp moat will find the white-clawed crayfish living in even greater numbers at Whipsnade in the future.'
Over forty UK native species are internationally threatened (including 9 whales), and in the last century 170 species of plants and animals became extinct in the UK.
ZSL’s UK native species conservation programme provides direct conservation action through captive breeding and reintroduction programmes, alongside indirect conservation support through health surveillance, research, education and raising awareness.
This project is being delivered in partnership by ZSL, the Ivel and Ouse Countryside project and the Bedfordshire Wildlife Trust.