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Support Our Claws!

Your support will make a huge difference.

From 18 to 25 April, we’re on a mission to raise £20,000 to help save one of the UK’s most endangered native species.

The white-clawed crayfish is the UK’s only native freshwater crayfish, but their survival is under threat. Thought to have declined by 95% within Hampshire since the 1970s, we must take action to save this species or risk them being lost from our precious chalk streams forever. These unimposing little crustaceans are critical to maintaining chalk stream ecosystems and without them, the delicate natural balance could be completely thrown out.

To support their survival, we plan to open a brand-new Conservation Breeding Centre at Marwell, helping to increase their numbers and providing a safe haven before they can be released into ark sites or back into wild populations within Hampshire.

Thanks to Big Give Champion – Postcode Green Trust, every pound you donate from noon on 18 April to noon on 25 April will be doubled. One donation, twice the impact!

Let’s give this important species a home at Marwell Zoo and ensure their survival for generations to come.

Donations must be made via The Big Give’s website. Please bookmark this page so that you can pop back with ease when Big Give week is live. Watch this space!

Donations must be made via The Big Give’s website.

Check back here between 18-25 April to donate.

A critical species

The UK has 85% of the world’s chalk streams.  They are ecologically rich thanks to the pure, clear water that flows from underground making them the perfect home for freshwater species such as trout, kingfishers, water voles, damsel flies and white-clawed crayfish.

We’re fortunate to have two of the most iconic chalk streams in the world right on our doorstep in Hampshire – the River Test and River Itchen. Swans, otters, newts and heron build their homes on these important waterways, creating a food web that supports itself.

Key to the success of the rich ecology is an important clean-up crew in the form of native white clawed crayfish. These unimposing little crustaceans are critical to maintaining chalk stream ecosystems and without them, the delicate natural balance could be completely unbalanced. 

As well as eating dead plant matter from the bottom of streams, they dig burrows that provide refuge for all manner of living things and are an important food source for other wildlife.

But white-clawed crayfish are Endangered! Habitat loss, pollution and the introduction of invasive non-native signal crayfish, have pushed white-clawed crayfish to the brink. Signal crayfish carry a crayfish plague, a disease that doesn’t affect them, but kills their white-clawed cousins.

White-clawed crayfish need our help!

Across Hampshire, ark sites are already being identified and established. The arks are isolated bodies of water that are selected to support healthy, self-sustaining populations of white-clawed crayfish, and safely away from the non-native species and crayfish plague. In the future, we hope to establish an ark here at Marwell too, but right now the urgent need is for a local breeding and rearing facility.

Our new Conservation Breeding Centre will not only be an important facility for breeding and rearing crayfish for release, but it will also be an important awareness and engagement hub locally. Guests to Marwell Zoo will have the opportunity to view crayfish, observe our work and learn about the importance of our local Hampshire chalk streams and how we can all take action to protect them.

Donations must be made via The Big Give’s website.

Check back here between 18-25 April to donate.

How to get involved

For one week only, donations made towards our project will be DOUBLED by Big Give Champion, Postcode Green Trust.  

Be part of making this vital project happen and you can say that you helped a UK wildlife species from being lost forever. To ensure your donation is doubled, you must make your donation via the Big Give website between 12pm on Thursday 18 April and 12pm on Thursday 25 April. Only the first £10,000 of donations will be doubled but all donations to this campaign will support our new Conservation Breeding Centre.

 

Donations must be made via The Big Give’s website.

Check back here between 18-25 April to donate.

Crazy Crayfish facts

  • They have an exoskeleton which they shed multiple times as they outgrow it. Their shells are made mostly of calcium so they need calcium rich waters to survive.
  • White-clawed crayfish carry up to 200 eggs for almost as long as a human pregnancy. The female holds the eggs under her tail for 8-9 months and when they hatch, the infants cling onto their mother for the first two weeks of their life!
  • White-clawed crayfish can live for 10 years and are only classed as mature at 3-4 years-old!
  • They need water that contains minerals to help build their shell – the same way we need calcium to grow our nails and teeth.
  • White-clawed crayfish have brilliant eyesight and can even move their eyes independently of one another.
  • They’re mostly nocturnal meaning they’re rarely seen in the wild.
  • White-clawed crayfish are omnivores, enjoying a diet of both flora and fauna.
  • They are protected in the UK under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981. They’re also listed as Endangered on the global IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Donations must be made via The Big Give’s website.

Check back here between 18-25 April to donate.

Where next?

Learn more about our conservation initiatives across the world.

Learn more