Beavers, bears, wolves and lynx: Campaigners want to see these animals reintroduced to the British countryside (Photo: Shutterstock)
Wolves, bears and lynx are among the species that would have once roamed the UK’s countryside in significant numbers, before being forced out through culls and over hunting by an ever growing human population.
But experts now believe that, by reintroducing some of these species, we can benefit not just from the opportunity to see these animals in the wild, but also from the ecological and environmental impact they could have.
Here’s a list of some of the species that conservation groups want to see reintroduced to the UK.
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Successful reintroduction efforts mean there are now almost 1,000 beavers living wild in UK streams and rivers, after disappearing more than 400 years ago.
Tentative efforts to re-establish a population of white-tailed eagles - or sea eagles as they are often called - in the UK mean there is now a small but growing population of these giant birds of prey on the Isle of Wight, and southern England.
Though the idea of wolves roaming around our national parks might be an intimidating one, in reality the trouble they’ve caused in other countries where they’ve been successfully reintroduced has been limited.
Programmes to reintroduce wild boar into UK countryside have been relatively successful in recent years, much to the joy of rewilding advocates, who say that the boars’ favourite pastimes of grubbing the floors of woodland and breaking up bracken are invaluable for biodiversity.
Small, elusive and a highly effective predator, the reintroduction of the pine marten into certain ecosystems could be a ‘two for one’, as they are likely to help control the invasive grey squirrel population and help native red squirrels re-establish.
Don’t worry, you’re not going to bump into one on your next country-walk, but rewilding advocates are keen to eventually see a population of Brown bears living in the wild here in the UK. A project in Bristol has brought bears and wolves together in the same environment, to see how they can coexist.
Though we tend to think of them as an American species, the European Bison would at one point have been found throughout the continent, including the UK. A new project in Kent hopes to make this a reality once again, at the Wilder Blean project.
Efforts to see lynx reintroduced to the UK countryside have not been successful as yet, though many campaigners want to see these elusive hunters return to the Scottish Highlands as well as the forests of northern England, for their potential to help woodland regeneration by managing deer populations.