Conservationists have given the UK's rarest lizard a helping hand, with 350-400 captive bred Sand Lizards released at six sites in England and Wales, including 34 on the Sefton Coast at Freshfield Dune Heath, as part of a long-term conservation project to restore the species’ status and historic range.
The Sand Lizard release at Freshfield is one of nineteen projects within the Sefton Coast Landscape Partnership Scheme, a three year Heritage Lottery Funded Project being delivered by the Sefton Coast Partnership. It is also supported by the North Merseyside Amphibian and Reptile Group, Amphibian and Reptile Conservation and Natural England.
In the UK Sand Lizards only live on two rare habitats – sand-dunes and lowland dry heath. A healthy population still survives on the sand dunes of the Sefton Coast but they have been lost from the heathland. A total of 34 juvenile Sand Lizards were released at the Lancashire Wildlife Trust’s Freshfield Dune Heath Nature Reserve in order to restore them to their previous range.
Merseyside Sand Lizards have a unique genetic make-up and the juveniles due for release have been captive bred from Merseyside stock by individuals from Amphibian and Reptile Conservation. The animals are being released in early September to allow them to get used to the re-introduction site gradually before hibernation in October.
Fiona Whitfield of the Lancashire Wildlife Trust said “We are excited at the arrival of a new species for the reserve and to be a part of these important local and national projects. There is a large population of Common Lizards on Freshfield Dune Heath so we are confident that the Sand Lizards will thrive here.”