BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: England  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Monday, 19 August, 2002, 18:19 GMT 19:19 UK
'Ratty' makes London comeback
Water vole
2001 saw a successful trial release in Barnes
Water voles have been returned to south-east London as part of a project to help them thrive in the city.

The endangered animals - made famous by Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows - have been returned to a specially-created site at Thamesmead.

The 60 voles were bred from 15 survivors of a once-thriving colony at the Wildwood Centre in Kent.

When the Thamesmead site was earmarked for housing, plans were included for a vole haven.

Water voles
Live in burrows on river banks
Are hunted by stoats, foxes, herons, barn owls, brown rats and pike
Their homes are under threat from pollution and vegetation clearing
Their greatest threat is the American mink

Millions of cubic feet of contaminated soil have been removed from the site, which has now been flooded with water.

The voles will be put in special pens and it is hoped they will burrow their way out into the reed beds of the wetlands site to make new homes.

Engineer Mark Philpotts said: "With the wetland site and the other canals and water courses we have been building, we can create something that will outlast us and leave something for the future.

"The water voles should have their future assured in this part of London."

Water voles are still often mistaken for brown rats and are sometimes called water rats.

But they can be distinguished by their furry tails, blunt noses and small ears.

Many enemies

They have been declining across the UK over the past 100 years - in London alone numbers have fallen by 80%.

They are not legally protected in the UK and are hunted by various predators - most notably the American mink.

Conservationists have been trying to reverse the decline of water voles in London.

In July, the Mammals Trust UK brought a colony of 200 captive-bred water voles to Bedfont Lakes Country Park near Heathrow Airport.

And 24 voles also bred in captivity were released at the London Wetland Centre in Barnes, south-west London in 2001.


Click here to go to BBC London Online
See also:

21 Jul 02 | Breakfast
18 Jul 02 | England
29 Apr 02 | England
26 Nov 01 | Science/Nature
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes