Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Saturday, 17 October 2009 12:18 UK

Fry makes plea to save water vole

Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust water vole campaign
Stephen Fry said endangered species in England need protection

A new appeal backed by Stephen Fry is under way to save the Cotswold water vole from extinction.

A Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust survey revealed existing populations are tiny and remote making them incapable of surviving without help.

"We're particularly worried about the plight of the..enchanting water vole," said Mr Fry and Mark Carwardine, from wildlife programme Last Chance to See.

"We strongly urge everyone to help this vital campaign in any way you can."

Two surveys conducted by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust in 1978/79, and then in 1997/98, recorded an 83% decline in water vole numbers in the county.

In 2009, the trust conducted a survey on sections of the rivers Churn, Coln, Windrush, Leach, Dikler and the Slaughter Brook.

Of the 22 parishes investigated, 19 were found to still support water voles despite the county-wide decline.

'Easy to forget'

The trust has devised a three-pronged attack to save the water vole which involves controlling mink populations, shoring up river banks and protecting habitats from damage by grazing animals.

"We've just spent six months travelling the world in search of high profile endangered species, from kakapo to Komodo dragons," said Mr Fry and Mr Carwardine.

"But it's all too easy to forget that we have endangered species in our own country that need just as much help."

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