23 January 2012

Happy Year of the Dragon!

January 23rd is the start of the Chinese year of the Dragon, which runs until February 2013. Froglife is planning a year packed with activities to celebrate, study and conserve the UK’s amphibian and reptile species.

Great Crested Newts are a big focus at the beginning of the year. The UK’s largest newt, they are like little black water dragons with bright yellow patters on their belly. The males have a distinctive crest in breeding season, which stands up along their back when they are in the water. 
A Great crested newt - the UK's largest and most colourful newt
“As a consequence of their decline in the last decades Great crested newts are a protected species in the UK and across Europe,” explains Dr Silviu Petrovan, Froglife’s Conservation Coordinator. “They are more restricted in their habitat needs than some other species and agricultural intensification, roads and new developments have all led to the loss of their historical ponds and terrestrial habitat. Maintaining and recreating habitats to allow populations to re-colonise some areas are the key for their long term survival.”

This year is also a year in which we undertake the Big Newt Count on Hampton Nature Reserve in Peterborough. Hard working volunteers and staff are helping get the Reserve ready for the night time surveys that will be starting in March to check how one of the largest populations of Great Crested Newts in Europe is getting on.

We are launching the Great Crafted Newt competition for crafty people all over the UK to make a newt using a range of weird and wonderful materials.  Young people, artists and crafts people are being challenged to get creative and enter for the chance to win some great prizes!
Can you Craft a Cresty or Knit a Newt?  Enter our Great Crafted Newts Competition!
There are all sorts of things you can do to get involved:

Photos: Jules Howard and Laura Brady

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