Annual BioBlitz Project

What is a bioblitz?

A bioblitz is an intense period of biological surveying in an attempt to record all the living species within a designated area. Groups of scientists, naturalists and volunteers conduct an intensive field study over a continuous time period (e.g., usually 24 hours)

When people visit zoos and aquariums, they come primarily to see the host of exotic; often endangered species that are held and protected in these establishments. But a zoo or aquarium by its very nature also becomes a haven for equally important rare and endangered native species.

At Woburn Safari Park you will see obvious evidence of how we are purposefully helping the native species on our site; for example with the bird boxes that are in the Australian walkabout exhibit.

Native species moving into man-made exotic animal habitats

By the very nature of how the keepers take care of the animals, they are inadvertently preparing perfect habitats for the birds to find food and nesting material.

Did you know that faeces increases the number of invertebrates in the enclosure and moulting wallaby hair provides great nesting material?

Other ways the keepers encourage native species is by leaving felled trees to rot down naturally to encourage invertebrate and by allowing large areas of wild grass to remain uncut. The Animal Encounters section of the Foot Safari also has a number of large old trees in which are perfect for birds and bats to take cover in.

24 hours with the experts

Every year the keepers, supported by local experts spend 24 hours surveying all of the native species found in the foot safari during that period.

Woburn Safari Park's Head of Conservation, Hayley Potter says: “We have been running bioblitz’s annually since 2014 and have so far recorded a total of 428 different species; 14 of which are either the first time they have ever been recorded in the county or are nationally scarce.

"The fact that we already have these species thriving on site is proof that the Safari Park has been managed sympathetically for nature; having now highlighted the presence of so many rare species we are now in a better position to effectively manage the site to help their future survival.”

Highlights include:

• Leaf gall smut (a type of mould and the only recorded occurrence in the UK)

• Breeding ravens 

• House mice (the only breeding occurrence on record in Bedfordshire in 2014 & 2015)

• Beckstein bats (which are very scarce nationally) 

Exciting finds in 2016

The house mice population was confirmed during the 2016 BioBlitz to have moved into the hay barn happily, and they now have ample food and plenty of bedding!

Some other exciting finds included a Black Wave Moth caterpillar, which is now confirmed to be breeding in the area, and possibly a species of aphid (greenfly) not previously recorded in Bedfordshire, which is currently being verified by the national recorder.