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Last Updated: Saturday, 23 February 2008, 15:26 GMT
Endangered toad project under way
natterjack toad
The natterjack toad is an endangered native species
An amphibian and reptile conservation charity is to transform an area of heathland in east Hampshire into a reserve for a rare breed of toad.

The district council has given 1,000 to The Herpetological Conservation Trust (HCT) to turn an area at Longmoor into the natterjack toad's habitat.

The grant will be used help clear birch, willow scrub and make a pond.

The most important remaining heaths for the toad and other rare animals are in Hampshire, Dorset, Surrey and Sussex.

Grazing cattle

"Now that we have cleared areas of scrub, the cattle play a vital role by grazing land around the pond to keep it in an ideal state for the natterjack," said John Buckley, the trust's amphibian conservation officer.

The natterjack - which features in the local authority's coat of arms - used to be common across England but due to loss of habitat it has become an endangered species and is now one of the rarest native amphibians.

The HCT has a licence to manage some 100 hectares of land at Longmoor and is working closely with Ministry of Defence agents, Defence Estates, in conserving the area, including through the grazing of cattle.



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