Outcomes and lessons from a quarter of a century of Sand lizard Lacerta agilis reintroductions in southern England.
Int. Zoo Yearb. 51: 87-96. https://doi.org/10.1111/izy.12155
Despite occurring widely across Europe and Asia, the Sand lizard Lacerta agilis is threatened in the north-western part of its range and had disappeared from much of its former habitat in England and Wales prior to concerted conservation action. A breeding population established at Marwell Zoo, UK, contributed to the re-establishment of 26 populations of Sand lizards at heathland and coastal dune sites across southern England as part of a wider multi-stakeholder response to reverse the decline of the species. Knowledge about the biology of Sand lizards was accrued during the process, which helped to refine the management of the breeding population that was maintained in a naturalistic setting within the indigenous range of the species. These successes were underpinned by coordinated collaborative actions and long-term institutional commitments against a backdrop of considerable change in the statutory framework governing Sand lizard conservation. The management of this project was not without cost or risk, including protection of valuable founder stock, incomplete knowledge about the health and disease status of Sand lizards, intrinsic constraints of limited founder representation, and the challenges of monitoring this elusive species post release.