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Nine endangered species that need our help

A water vole swimming through the reeds
A water vole swimming through reeds | © National Trust Images/Richard Bradshaw

Once-common wildlife – like water voles and cuckoos – are now rare and under threat as a result of habitat degradation and intensive farming practices. Our rangers are working with farmers to create nature habitats and help struggling birds, butterflies and wildflowers across the country.

1. Water voles – Malham Tarn, Yorkshire Dales 
Once a common sight on rivers, water voles have disappeared from almost 90 per cent of rivers and streams. A hundred water voles were reintroduced on to Malham Tarn, England’s highest freshwater lake in 2016. Survey work a year later showed that they had spread up to a kilometre from the original release site.Water vole reintroduction programme at Malham Tarn
2. Cuckoo – Murlough National Nature Reserve, Co. Down 
The cuckoo’s distinctive call is said to announce the arrival spring. But numbers in Britain have fallen by more than 60 per cent in 30 years. By leaving patches of scrub and scattered trees on Murlough's dunes, year after year rangers have seen cuckoos return to Northern Ireland’s first nature reserve.How we're protecting habitats at Murlough National Nature Reserve
3. Large blue butterfly – Collard Hill, Somerset 
Britain’s rarest butterfly was reintroduced to Collard Hill in 2000. Over a thousand visitors come to spot the large blue on the chalk grassland in early summer. Grazing by Dexter cattle has made the grass short enough for the ants on which the large blue caterpillars depend.Our butterfly conservation work
A large blue butterfly resting on a clover flower at Collard hill, Somerset.
A large blue butterfly at Collard Hill, Somerset | © National Trust Images/Brian Cleckner
4. Mountain hares – Kinder Plateau, Peak District 
A decade ago Kinder Scout was one of the most eroded peat bogs in Britain. Working with United Utilities and Natural England, the National Trust has restored 80 hectares of blanket bog – installing 6,000 dams, planting a million moorland plants and reseeding heather. The work has created new habitats for species like mountain hares, red grouse and golden plover. It is also expected to reduce flooding, improve water quality downstream and help store carbon.See more on the High Peak Moors project
5. Atlantic salmon – Mottisfont Estate, Hampshire 
On the River Test, which runs through the Mottisfont Estate, river keeper Neil Swift cuts back weed in the chalk stream and maintains the lush vegetation of the river banks. The work has benefited a range of species – and seen numbers of juvenile salmon increase dramatically.Our work on the River Test
6. Natterjack toad – Formby, Merseyside 
Known for their booming ratchet-like call, Formby’s natterjack toads are known locally as the Birkdale nightingale. On warm nights in late spring, the toads meet in dune pools to mate. Without these dune habitats these rare toads would be lost forever.Our conservation work at Formby Woods
Natterjack toads mating
Natterjack toads underwater at Sandscale Haws, Cumbria | © National Trust Images/Neil Forbes
7. Smooth snake – Studland Heath, Dorset 
Britain’s rarest snake is now only found on England's south coast – including at Studland Heath, home to all six of Britain’s native reptile species. Rangers are working with a grazier and partners to extend the lowland heathland habitat on Purbeck – helping the smooth snake and other struggling heathland species.Our work at Studland Bay
8. Lapwing – Gupton Farm, Pembrokeshire  
Flocks of up to 2,000 lapwings can be seen on Gupton Farm in winter. The fields, which lie just behind Freshwater West beach, are grazed by dairy farmer Chris James’ cattle in the winter. The red-listed lapwing feed off grubs from the cows’ dung.
9. Cirl bunting – Devon and Cornwall 
Cirl buntings were once found on farmland right across the south of England. But intensive farming forced the birds to retreat to Devon. In the last 25 years farmers and rangers have worked together to plant crops and replant hedgerows, seeing cirl bunting numbers rocket by almost 1,000 per cent.Our work saving the cirl bunting
Ranger in National Trust fleece inspecting white blossom on tree in orchard

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