A British conservation project turned successful when it managed to achieve the goal of reintroducing red squirrels in their native habitat in the Scottish Highlands. The project was launched by the Trees for Life foundation, and it aims to continue reintroducing the species until it reaches high numbers again.
Red squirrels returned to the Highlands
The Scottish Highlands had to deal with massive deforestation, which reduced the forest area to only a few isolated patches of trees. This had a huge impact on the native species of red squirrels. Adding the influence of the grey squirrels, which didn’t originate in the area but were artificially introduced there, the other species has been driven away.
Therefore, Trees for Life decided to bring red squirrels back home. Last year, they started reintroducing the species in the north-western region of Scotland, and the populations have already started thriving. They managed to reach 138,000 specimens, and the foundations plans to do what it can to boost their numbers even more.
This initiative might prove incredible. Red squirrels have thrived and readapted really well to the habitat, but the news is even better. Researchers spotted them populating other neighboring areas, on a range of 9 miles from the region they had been first introduced.
Grey squirrels were to blame for the decline in numbers of the red ones
Over the past few years, red squirrels suffered a serious decline in their numbers. Once, about 3.5 million specimens on average could be spotted all over United Kingdom. Then, reports showed how their number decreased to 25,000 in 2005, and their grey siblings are to blame.
This species was first introduced from the United States in 1876, and it was meant to be bred as ornamental animals in noble homes. However, they quickly expanded and, when people noticed how much damage they did to the environment and the red squirrel populations, it was already too late. Grey squirrels eat a lot more than their red siblings, and have a higher resistance to diseases. Therefore, it was easy for them to thrive better than the others.
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