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Kent Reptile & Amphibian Group News SE Regional Meeting a Great Success
SE Regional Meeting a Great Success
Wednesday, 23 November 2011 08:27

Over 100 people attended the SE & London ARGUK Regional Meeting hosted by KRAG at the weekend and was a tremendous success. In light of grave concerns regarding the conservation plight of the adder,  Dr. Chris Gleed-Owen has prepared a press release on behalf of the group. It appears that news of the conference has started to filter into the National Press. 


Female adder close to hibernaculum


From the press release:

Experts have declared that Britain’s only venomous snake, the adder, is in urgent need of conservation action. With adder numbers declining in many areas, conservationists paint a bleak picture for its future unless help is forthcoming.

More than a hundred adder experts and conservationists have attended a special conference at Greenwich University in Chatham, Kent, to discuss ways of conserving the species. The conference was organised by Kent Reptile and Amphibian Group (KRAG) on behalf of a national network of conservation groups, Amphibian and Reptile Groups of the UK (ARG UK).


Delegates at Adder Conference

Attendees voted unanimously to adopt a motion that:


‘The adder is in more urgent need of new conservation efforts than any other reptile or amphibian species in Britain.’


Despite its widespread distribution across the whole of Britain, adder numbers are thought to be declining rapidly in many areas. The species is already extinct from whole counties such as Nottinghamshire and Warwickshire. The adder conference held on Saturday 19 November 2011 saw speakers come from across Britain, as well as France and Switzerland, to give their interpretations of the situation facing adders in their area.


‘It was a great success, and amazing to see so many people who care about saving adders. Hopefully now help is at hand,’ - Gail Austen-Price, KRAG Chairman.


One of the biggest threats facing adders today is accidental damage or destruction of their winter hibernation sites. Adders often hibernate communally in mammal burrows or under tree roots, and if such a place is damaged, a whole population can be wiped out.

Despite nature conservation being implemented on thousands of protected sites across Britain, it is often these sites where adders suffer the most. Well-meaning activities such as scrub clearance can have unforeseen consequences that are devastating for hibernating adders. The ARG UK adder conference set a milestone by announcing that the adder’s plight is reaching a critical point, and now is the time for government bodies and conservation organisations to take action. ARG UK now plans to set up a website for a flagship survey project called Make the Adder Count, where volunteers monitor adder numbers at their local sites. ARG UK also wants to set up a register of hibernation sites, to alert local authorities and other countryside managers of these crucial locations. Conservationists admit that adders suffer from a poor public image, and the next step is to produce a battle plan to raise awareness and appreciation.


'The adder is an enigmatic snake, steeped in history and folklore from the druids to Shakespeare and Arthurian legend. It would be tragic to see it disappear, but it suffers from a public image problem that makes it difficult for many people to love,’ -  Dr Chris Gleed-Owen.




In Kent, KRAG has been monitoring local adder populations for many years. Despite significant efforts to raise awareness within the county, adders remain vulnerable to disturbance and persecution. Our 'Adders in Decline' Project may have been initiated 7 years ago, but its work has barely begun...

If you share our concerns about the plight of what is surely one Britain's most exciting wild animals please This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . KRAG needs active volunteers who are prepared to help record the location of adders, talk to landowners and help convince conservation organisations that the adder is a species worth conserving.