Hundreds of reptiles have been released back into the wild next to an iconic pumping station as part of a wildlife translocation project in Bexley.
Ecologists have so far re-homed 187 common lizards and 273 slow worms at Thames Water’s Crossness nature reserve, in Abbey Wood, south east London, with many more set to follow.
The reptiles, previously based on a site in Erith in Bexley, had to be moved after their former home was earmarked for a housing development.
Karen Sutton, Thames Water’s biodiversity team manager, said: “I was surprised to see so many reptiles arriving in the first week. Surveys at the Erith site had initially indicated a fairly low number of reptiles being present so I was delighted to see such a good, healthy population arriving.
“The translocation exercise will continue throughout the spring and summer, so we should have a good, sustainable population that can breed and expand.”
Moving to Crossness nature reserve has also allowed the reptiles to remain in the London borough of Bexley, as it was initially feared they may have to be moved to another part of the country.
As part of the project Abbey Developments also arranged for the construction of reptile basking areas and a variety of habitats throughout the Crossness site. The company also agreed to undertake a monitoring programme following to see how they fair over the next few years.
John Young, an ecologist at Lloyd Bore who were instructed by Abbey Developments to find the reptiles a new home, said: “Crossness is a perfect site to translocate the reptiles. It has just the right mix of suitable reptile habitat with open areas of rough grassland and pockets of scattered scrub and the existing management regime will help maintain the habitat and secure the reptile population.”