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Unicorn reintroduction

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Iconic British unicorns reintroduced into secluded nature reserve on the Isle of Wight

We are proud to unveil our new project – reintroducing unicorns (Equus monoceros) into Briddlesford Wood on the Isle of Wight and the Shetland Isles, as part of our ongoing conservation efforts to reintroduce endangered species back to the UK.

Once a common sight in early Britain, unicorns lived in all corners of the land and were a much-loved species due to both their beauty and mystical qualities. In the early 16th century however, unicorns were hunted to near-extinction as it was believed their horns held magical powers – indeed Henry VIII hunted them on his Hampton Court Estate, as he thought they would help him father the male heir he so desired. Now, we plan to help bring unicorns back to Britain.

We are reintroducing 20 breeding pairs into Briddlesford Wood on the Isle of Wight – a magical woodland which is already home to endangered red squirrels and hazel dormice. Due to popular demand we are also reintroducing bringing the national animal of Scotland to a secret location to the Shetland Isles – which is already home to many species including the famous Shetland Ponies, otters and puffins.

Ursula Whitehorn, Unicorn Reintroduction Officer at PTES says: “Briddlesford is an ancient woodland that PTES has been managing for over a quarter of a century. The unicorns will fit in perfectly alongside the hazel dormice, red squirrels and Bechstein’s bats that have already made it their home, and we are very proud to be spear-heading this vital reintroduction of an ancient, iconic British species.”

Aside from the one-of-a-kind unicorn reintroduction, we work to protect endangered species both in the UK and internationally, and as part of their ongoing conservation work has reintroduced many iconic species back to their former, and natural, habitats including:

Dormouse head out of box by Thames WaterHazel dormice

We manage the nationwide dormouse monitoring scheme – the National Dormouse Monitoring Programme – which has been running for nearly 25 years. Each year, we lead the reintroduction of rare hazel dormice into specially selected woodland habitats across the UK. To date, along with our partners, we have reintroduced over 900 dormice across 12 English counties. This June, we will reintroduce dormice into part of Warwickshire.

Red squirrels:

In 2016/17, we supported a team which released 55 red squirrels to ten woodland sites in the north-west Highlands, in areas safe from grey squirrels. Today, Scotland is the species’ best stronghold, being home to around 121,000 red squirrels.


pine marten by Didier Schurch

Pine martens

In autumn 2015, we funded partners who successfully relocated 20 pine martens from Scotland to mid-Wales. With the birth of several kits already, our first milestone has been achieved.

Read more about this ground breaking project

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