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Outlook for south London’s hedgehogs is more positive than originally thought - PTES

Surveys reveal hotspots, connected populations but also areas of absence, where ‘hogs need help

Battersea-based wildlife charity People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) is funding two conservation research interns working to conserve hedgehogs as part of ZSL’s London HogWatch.

Camera trap surveys, conducted during 2020’s summer lockdown by PTES intern Kate Scott-Gatty, show that the outlook for hedgehogs in south London is better than originally thought. The cameras revealed connected populations, hotspots, areas where populations appear to have declined, and, worryingly, areas where no hedgehogs were present at all. The surveys produce thousands of images which all need to be checked.

Second PTES intern, Dylan Carbone, is trialling the development of machine learning tools to quickly identify images with hedgehogs and other wildlife and discard those without. By identifying the different species seen by camera traps, the tool allows researchers to focus in on the hedgehogs recorded quickly and efficiently, saving hours of painstaking work.

Nida Al-Fulaij, Conservation Research Manager at PTES says: “The results from Kate and Dylan’s work reinforce just how important well-connected gardens and green spaces are for the long-term survival of this iconic species in urban and suburban areas. It’s encouraging to see widespread and robust populations across south London and that hedgehogs are doing well in areas where gardens are well-connected, but more work is needed as hedgehog numbers are still nowhere near what they were even 10 years ago.” “We now need to capitalise on this and make as many gardens, allotments, parks and local green spaces as hedgehog friendly as possible, in a bid to help our capital’s hedgehogs.”

Posted on: 25 August 2021

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