Scientists baffled over mysterious lack of hedgehogs in Southwark green spaces

Josh Salisbury (19 February, 2020)

'We don’t know why hedgehogs would be doing so well in some areas, but less so in others,' say researchers

34949Only one hedgehog was spotted across 65 camera locations in Southwark

Scientists say there is a mystery over why there are so few hedgehog sightings in Southwark’s green spaces.

Boffins at the Zoological Society of London placed hundreds of cameras in green spaces across the capital to record wildlife spotted in a two-week period throughout 2019.

The largest population was discovered in Hampstead Heath, while 62 sightings were spotted on cameras across west London.

But in Dulwich Park, Peckham Rye and Common, and Russia Dock Woodland, just one hedgehog was seen in 65 camera locations.

The Southwark locations should support hedgehogs, leading to a mystery of why so few were captured on camera, say the researchers.

“Interestingly, the habitat in the green spaces we investigated in the Southwark area is very similar to the areas where hedgehogs appear to be doing well,” said Rachel Cates, who led the research as part of an internship project.

“We don’t know why hedgehogs would be doing so well in some areas, but less so in others, when the habitats look similar.

“One explanation could be that these areas are isolated from larger green spaces, meaning there’s no safe passages to enable hedgehogs to access these sites from outside.”

Russia Dock Woodland (Kam Hong Leung)

A previous ZSL survey in 2018 also showed that the best location for hedgehogs in London was Hampstead Heath, and work is also ongoing to discover this area appears to be so good for hedgehogs.

“It’s not surprising that the distribution of hedgehogs across London is patchy,” said Nida Al-Fulaij, of the wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species, which helped fund the research.

“London’s infrastructure is continuously growing and many of its green spaces are becoming harder for hedgehogs and other wildlife to access.”

She added that Ms Cates’s research was important because it would enable the charity to help support hedgehogs in areas where they are doing less well.

The charity also runs a nationwide campaign called ‘Hedgehog Street’ which gives out tips for people to support the creatures in their own back gardens.

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