10 of the most endangered animal species in Britain

We take a look at some of Britain’s most endangered species.

21st May 2015

1. Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly

British butterflies have been in decline in recent years in general, but a species that has particularly suffered if the pretty Small Tortoiseshell. In 2013 it was reported that numbers had dropped by 77% in the previous ten years.

Butterfly populations have struggled here on recent years because of the poor summers and, as with most of the animals on this list, a decline in the availability of its natural habitat.

2. Cicada

While these insects are common throughout Europe, they are struggling desperately in Britain. Their population is now confined to small areas of the New Forest in Hampshire and there have been no recorded sightings of the bug since the turn of the Millennium.

The 14 year gap has led to suggestions that it has already become extinct, but experts say it suffered a similar lull in the 1940s and 1960s, only to be spotted again. Tracking their whereabouts and numbers is not easy. The cicada emits a high-pitched song only on sunny days between May and July. So high-pitched in fact that it is imperceptible to most humans, especially those over the age of 40.

3. Turtle doves

A once familiar sight and a sound often associated with the British summer, Turtle Dove numbers have fallen by a staggering 93% since 1970 and now resides on the Global Red List for Endangered Species.

Smaller than its collared cousin, the Turtle Dove is now only found in eastern England, where farmers are working with the RSPB to create feeding habitats, the destruction of which are blamed for the bird’s decline. 

4. Cosnard’s Net-winged Beetle

Image via www.biolib.cz

Only found in the Forest of Dean/Wye Gorge area and on the South Downs, this little beetle has declined largely due to a loss of large, old beech trees where it spends its days.

Research by Natural England earlier this year suggested that this was just one many breeds of soldier beetle at risk. Around 15% of the species are endangered.

5. Wart-biter Cricket

This cricket – whose name comes from an old tradition of using them to bite warts off skin – can only be found in four naturally occurring locations across East Sussex, Dorset and Wiltshire.

While another population has been re-introduced in Kent, taking the total known sites of habitation to five, the wart-biter is at a high-risk of extinction due to loss of its habitat on heathland and chalk landscape as well as its prey.

6. V-moth

Image via Chris Manley - Butterly Conservation

Although it can be found across most of the country, today’s V-moth population is thought to be less than 1% of its 1960s levels. Despite enjoying a plentiful habitat of cultivated land such as parks and gardens, the V-moth uses currents as their caterpillar food plant – the falling garden growth of which is thought to be a key factor in decline. 

7. Bearded False Darkling Beetle

Image via Species Recovery Trust

This brilliant beetle is only to be found in 5 areas of south-east Britain. One such location is The New Forest, which has an abundance of the beetle’s favourite places to live: deadwood as well as oak trees.

Rural development and deforestation has removed the beetle’s chosen habitat in the vast majority of Britain resulting in it being classified as ‘endangered’ and at severe risk of disappearing completely from these shores.nt. 

8. Natterjack Toad

One of only two types of toad in the UK, this noisy amphibian is said to be audible over several kilometres but sadly there are vast swathes of Britain in which it cannot be heard at all.

It has all but gone from these islands, appearing mainly in small areas of Lincolnshire and Norfolk, and along the western coast from Lancashire to Dumfries. They have been reintroduced in Hampshire and Surrey but are still considered endangered, despite female Natterjacks being able to lay up to 7,500 eggs during breeding season.

9. Hedgehog

This much-loved creature has seen a harsh decline in the last 70 years. In 1950 there were an estimated 36 million hedgehogs in the UK. Sadly, reports last year suggested that had dropped to just one million in 2013, a third of levels at the start of the century.

It is considered to be partly due to warmer winters that have affected their hibernation patterns, waking them up at the wrong time of year, before there is enough food around. New roads and building developments constructed in their habitat may also be a factor.

10. Red squirrel

The ever-popular red squirrel has been in decline since the early 20th century and has dwindled to an estimated population of only 140,000. This compares to the 2.5 million strong North American grey squirrel pushing it out of most areas since its introduction to the UK. Now the reds are only commonly found in the far north of England and Scotland.

There were encouraging signs of a small fight-back for the Red squirrel last autumn, but their susceptibility to squirrel pox means they remain very much in the shadow of the grey. 

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