Wildlife Column

A Hedgehog caught by ZSL's camera trap as part of HogWatch

A Hedgehog caught by ZSL's camera trap as part of HogWatch - Credit: Archant

ZSL Fundraising Director James Wren asks us to look at the wildlife around us

James Wren, fundraising director at ZSL

James Wren, fundraising director at ZSL - Credit: Archant

As citizens of one of the busiest cities in the world it’s easy to think we’re disconnected from nature, but that couldn’t be further from the truth- everything from beatles and butterflies to frogs and hedgehogs are living right alongside us, if we stop to take a closer look.

I consider myself lucky to work for international conservation charity ZSL, where we’re working to save endangered species all over the world; and I’m surrounded by incredible wildlife just outside my office at the Zoo.

Bringing people and wildlife closer together is a key pillar of what ZSL does. We know that animals can improve people’s mental wellbeing, and help people to foster relationships with each other, and we know that a positive connection with wildlife is the strongest motivator to encourage action for wildlife.

Working for wildlife brings so much enrichment to my life, but my connection isn’t restricted to the 750 species that call London Zoo home – in and around the site is an abundance of incredible wildlife - native British species sharing our space.

James Wren, fundraising director at ZSL

James Wren, fundraising director at ZSL - Credit: Archant


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Just on our doorstep, in the shrubbery of the Zoo’s car park, live western hedgehogs, part of a population we know that live inside Regent’s Park, and are regarded as the most centrally located population in London.

Eight of the UK’s 17 bat species call our vibrant city home, and native birds, from sparrows and swifts to owls and goldfinch can be found in and around central London.

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There are incredible creatures all around us - in our back gardens, local parks and rivers - and there are small things that we can all do that will make a big difference to them.

Putting a float in your pond so that wildlife, such as robins, can find fresh water that hasn’t frozen over, or taking care not to disturb hibernating wildlife while gardening, can make a huge difference to our native creatures.

James Wren, fundraising director at ZSL

James Wren, fundraising director at ZSL - Credit: Archant

Going one step further, we conducted a survey around Hampstead Heath using 150 camera traps, capturing what we believe to be the largest population of native hedgehogs in London. Launched in October 2016, The London HogWatch project, identifies and investigates the population and health of our native hedgehogs.

Through it, we aim to monitor the hedgehog’s population and assess how they are adapting to their urban surroundings.

We can then see their impact and identify new and emerging trends which help to inform local conservation actions.

Since its launch, the project has helped to discover two crucial locations that our beloved hedgehogs call home.

We also had occasional sightings of muntjac deer and a single badger on the Heath, the first recorded in the area for several years. We rely on donations to run conservation projects like London HogWatch.

To give a gift go to zsl.org

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