The Wildwood Trust is home to an extensive collection of British wildlife. Animals that have inhabited Britain for the last 10,000 years and animals that have been hunted to extinction in the UK.
I had heard many good things about this ancient forest, which is located between the historic city of Canterbury and the pretty coastal town of Herne Bay, so was extremely excited to finally get the chance to see it for myself.
Fallow Deer were introduced to this country by the Normans in the 10th Century, and now live wild in woodland in the UK. The Fallow Deer can be identified by its tan/brown fur and white spots on the flank. The males have branched antlers, which are grown new each year ready for the autumn mating season. The antlers have a broad flat area like the palm of a hand and the number of branches on the antler increases with age.
Wild Boar are members of the pig family, and used to roam wild in the UK until they were hunted to extinction in the 1300s. They are the size of a large dog but far heavier, with dark grey skin and reddish brown bristles. Fortunately, Wild Boar exist in the UK, in the wild again, albeit in isolated areas, having escaped from Wild Boar farms. However these animals are extremely shy so the chances of seeing one in the wild is remote.
The Red Deer is our largest land mammal, standing over a metre to the shoulder. Its summer coat is reddish brown to brown and there are no spots present in adult coat.
Standing at up to 2m tall and almost 3m long, the European Bison is the largest terrestrial animal in Europe and once roamed from southern Britain as far as Russia. It became extinct in the wild in 1927 when the last wild Bison was shot and killed.
The Eurasian Lynx became extinct in Britain due to hunting for their fur and habitat loss. They have been absent from this country for at least 1500 years. Did you know that the Lynx is the third largest predator in Europe, after the Brown Bear and Wolf? The long tufts on their ears help this stealthy and solitary cat to hear better.
Wildwood is home to a pair of Lynx sisters who love nothing better than to lounge in the sun. They are generally very chilled but turn your backs to them at your peril!
The Otter is a member of the weasel family (Mustelid) and lives in lakes, streams and rivers around the UK. It is endangered, but its populations are recovering after almost reaching extinction from absorbing the poisonous weed killer DDT from the animals it ate. Only last week, it was confirmed that there were now Otters in every county. How wonderful is that?
The Badger is another member of the Mustelid family. This little one is an orphan, just like Honey at the British Wildlife Centre.
Wolves and humans have a long adversarial history. Though they almost never attack humans, Wolves are considered one of the animal world’s most fearsome natural villains. It is this unfair reputation which has caused them to be hunted to extinction in England by the 15th Century.
The Wolves of Wildwood are split into two groups. The wild pack consists of four related Wolves and two hand-reared Wolves who are sisters. The hand-reared Wolves were born to the Wolf Pack but rescued when their den became flooded. They had to spend so long with people whilst their den was fixed, they could not be returned to the pack.
The European Beaver is a native British species but was hunted to extinction in the UK centuries ago for their fur. Beavers are entirely vegetarian and use their sharp teeth to chop down trees and strip away bark and leaves. Some of the trunks of these trees they use to build a dam across a stream, which creates an artificial lake.
There were so many more animals (and birds) at Wildwood than I had the time to photograph. It truly is a lovely place to visit and the facilities are superb. We will be back!