Hedgehog appeal

I'll help hedgehogs

National Hedgehog Monitoring

Twelve years ago, our survey dedicated to mammals spotted on roads revealed a worrying and fast decline in hedgehog numbers. Their population is a fraction of what it used to be. But despite hedgehogs being one of the country’s favourite animals there’s currently no national survey dedicated to them. And owing to high uncertainty around population estimates, the true scale of loss is unknown. So, we’re very pleased to announce we’re starting a National Hedgehog Monitoring Programme together with our longstanding colleagues at The British Hedgehog Preservation Society, and experts from ZSL and the universities of Nottingham Trent and Durham.

Although we know where hedgehogs are still present, we don’t know which areas have so few hedgehogs it threatens their future survival. We also don’t know enough about populations in rural habitats and how their numbers vary across different regions and habitats. We really need a dedicated way of monitoring hedgehogs, so we can reverse their decline in the UK.

It’s the first time anything like this has been done on a national scale. Cameras will be deployed at a network of sites across the country, in a range of habitats, from April to October. At each site, 30 cameras will be in situ for 30 days, capturing images of any animals that cross their paths. An immediate challenge will be the sheer volume of images captured, so AI technology, as well as many volunteers, will help spot the hedgehogs amongst other animals and humans.

Once all the hedgehogs are identified, the data will be analysed, using pioneering technology that converts 2D images into 3D maps. We’ll have the precise positions of hogs in all the images, and the speed they move across the camera. Add to this the size of the camera detection zone and we can establish densities of hedgehogs across all sorts of habitats. This simply wasn’t possible before. It’s exciting to have new technology to make this kind of survey feasible, especially as hedgehogs are so hard to survey in rural areas. By understanding hedgehog populations better and why they’re struggling, we can implement conservation measures more effectively.

I hope you’ll want to join us in creating the first national monitoring programme for hedgehogs. It’s hedgehog’s turn for national monitoring now!

Thank you.

Henrietta Pringle,
National Hedgehog Monitoring Programme Coordinator

Thank you.

Header image credit Christopher Morgan

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