New project aims to increase London's Water Vole population


A new project to recover Water Vole populations in London is calling on members of the public to help with conservation efforts.

Londoners are being asked to explore local waterways and report any sightings or evidence of the animals. Water vole numbers have plummeted over the past 30 years and there is limited data on how many remain in the capital. The project, led by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), will use the data to identify key population areas.

Britain's European Water Vole population has undergone a dramatic decline (Ian Howard).

The Wellcome Sanger Institute estimates that in 1990, there were around 7.3 million European Water Voles in the UK, with populations widespread across Greater London. Since then, habitat loss, water pollution and predation from American Mink have caused the number of voles to fall by an estimated 93%.

Supported by the Mayor of London's Rewild London Fund, the project hopes to increase the number of voles across London's waterways. To better understand where they are, the public are being urged to keep an eye out, and log any sightings on the Water Vole Recovery Project recording form.

Sam Facey, ZSL's estuaries and wetland's project officer, said: "We know there are some populations still present within London, but we still don't have a clear picture across most of the city. We need the help of the public to look for water voles and provide the essential data that will allow us to pinpoint where we need to place our conservation efforts to help restore their populations."