A recent survey conducted by scientists from ZSL (Zoological Society of London)’s London HogWatch programme and People’s Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) has revealed a mixed picture for native hedgehogs across the capital.
The research, carried out over a two-week period in 2019, involved placing hundreds of cameras in several green spaces across London, from Haringey to Camden and from Southwark to Barnes. Led by PTES funded intern Rachel Cates, with support from ZSL’s Dr Chris Carbone, the project found larger hedgehog populations across north and west of London, with only a few in the south-east.
Hampstead Heath in north London saw the highest number of hedgehogs recorded, followed by WWT Wetland Centre, Barnes Common, Putney Lower Common, Roehampton Golf Course, the Bank of England Sports Centre and Palewell Common in the west, with 62 sightings in this area.
A different picture is revealed south-east of the city, however, with only a single hedgehog detected from the 65 cameras located within Dulwich Park, Peckham Rye and Common, and Russia Dock Woodland.
The team are uncertain why hedgehogs weren’t recorded here, especially as hedgehogs and foxes often live side by side and plenty of foxes were seen. Occasional sightings may show that hedgehogs are living in the areas surrounding the parks, in private gardens, allotments and school grounds.
Rachel Cates, PTES’ Intern, explains: “Interestingly, the habitat in the green spaces we investigated in the Southwark area is very similar to the areas where hedgehogs appear to be doing well. We don’t know why hedgehogs would be doing so well in some areas, but less so in others, when the habitats look similar. One explanation could be that these areas are isolated from larger green spaces, meaning there are no safe passages to enable hedgehogs to access these sites from outside.”
People can help hedgehogs in their own back gardens by putting a hole in a garden fence and recording sightings on the BIG Hedgehog Map. Hedgehog Street, a nationwide campaign run by British Hedgehog Preservation Society and PTES, offers simple top tips showing how people can make their garden a hedgehog haven. For further information visit www.hedgehogstreet.org
Main image: Native hedgehog – Brian Austin for Hedgehog Street