Bringing Back Water Voles #GetInVoled!
Our mission & why
At Citizen Zoo, we want to live in a world filled with wildlife, where both people and wildlife can thrive alongside each other. All our projects work to restore the amazing complexity of nature, led by inspired and empowered local communities. We are a conservation social enterprise who believes in the power of rewilding; both the rewilding of people by reconnecting them to nature and the rewilding of our landscapes.
This project is working to return one of the UK’s fastest declining wild mammals back to the Hogsmill River, the water vole! Water voles (Arvicola amphibius) are one of the UK’s most endearing and charismatic mammals, immortalised in British culture in famous tales such as The Wind and Willows. Water voles hold a special place in British hearts, and the Hogsmill has a special affinity with water voles too. Locals speak of a time only 30 years ago when these furry critters were teaming in our rivers. The famous Millais painting ‘Ophelia’ depicting the Hogsmill river was originally set to feature a water vole until art critics thought it would be mistaken for a rat. Unfortunately in more recent times, water voles were last spotted on the river in 2014 and they are now locally extinct.
Check out some links below for more info:
- Project page on Citizen Zoo website
- Field studies council talk
- Sky news video about water vole project
Progress to date
Our project has already achieved so much! We have engaged over 4,000 people in Kingston and surrounding areas, to raise the profile of these amazing animals. We have also trained over 60 local people to see the world through the beady eyes of a water vole, which enabled us to map the entire catchment to identify appropriate habitat for water voles. We have also deployed 10 mammal footprint rafts which is enabling us to monitor the mammals that are currently using the river.
What this campaign will fund
We are now preparing for the next step, the reintroduction, and we need your help! Our volunteer team remains committed and a plan has been developed for the next 18 months of work. A “vole ranger” will be appointed who will continue to support and empower this fantastic community that have been involved with the project from the beginning, as well as coordinating the reintroduction of voles themselves. The funding will also help us source these fantastic animals from specialist breeders around the country.
COVID-19 has seen local people engage with and appreciate our green-spaces like never before. This project will help to inspire more people about the incredible natural world on our doorstep, improve the ecological health of the river and make it an even more magical place for people to enjoy.
Our project will bring this species back to this beautiful river where it was once found, as part of our mission to rewild our future!
We welcome any support, even if they are in amounts smaller than reward packages, any support is helpful in the work to bring this species back!
Thank you all in advance and WILD WISHES,
Your Citizen Zoo crew (psst don't forget to scroll down further to check out the rewards too!)
PS check out pictures of some of our funky awards below!
Water Vole Guardian Certificate
Groovy Water Vole Face Coverings