British carnivore numbers on the rise after approaching extinction

Date: 04-Mar-19
Author: Liam Taylor

Otters are just one of the mammalian carnivores that have made an incredible recovery in recent decades. Image: Daniel H. Tong/Unsplash © Daniel H. Tong/Unsplash

Otters are just one of the mammalian carnivores that have made an incredible recovery in recent decades. Image: Daniel H. Tong/Unsplash

Iconic British predators including badgers, stoats and otters have staged a remarkable recovery after approaching extinction during the 1960s. A new study published in journal Mammal Review, shows populations of nearly all the endangered mammalian carnivores have ‘markedly improved’ since that time.

Lead author of the study Katie Sainsbury said extinction of some species had been highly likely and the carnivores had recovered in a fashion that would have seemed “incredibly unlikely” but a few decades ago. A number of conservation initiatives including legal protections, habitat restoration, reintroductions, predator control, pollutant control and disease management have all contributed to the species’ recovery. 

“Most of these species have essentially recovered by themselves, once pressures from predator controls and pollutants were reduced, and it’s taken them a while,” Sainsbury told The Guardian UK.

“Yes, there are more of them now than in most people’s lifetimes, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t potential for populations to grow and spread further.”

Whilst the latest study is cause for celebration, there remain significant threats to carnivore populations including the over-use of pesticides and the possibility for new disease outbreaks amongst prey. Conservationists will need to remain vigilant to ensure populations aren’t allowed to dwindle once more.

With many mammalian carnivores native to Australia facing similar threats in terms of competition from introduced species and habitat loss, the latest news from the UK could hold insights into conservation methods closer to home.


Positive Action

  • To find out more on action being taken to protect native Australian mammals, or to support their conservation projects, visit the Australian Wildlife Conservancy.
  • Habitat loss is a significant issue for Australian mammals. Get involved in National Tree Day this year and plant a native or two to help them out.


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Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.

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Liam                                              Taylor
Author: Liam Taylor

Liam is Planet Ark's Communications Coordinator. Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia.

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