Friday, 5 February 2016

Introduced Wall Lizards in England

In my post of 27 February 2015, I considered how introduced Wall Lizards (Podarcis muralis) in England have adapted to colder conditions. In this post I draw attention to the Wall Lizard Project. This website provides information on all the colonies, extinct as well as extant, that have been discovered. This is a screen grab showing where the colonies are or were.

Clicking on the boxes below the map provides a link to a description of all that is known about the introduction and its survival. If the introduction of alien species now seems odd, it is not many decades ago that some individuals considered it their duty to increase the number of species in the herpetologically impoverished British Isles.

You can find there, for example, the information that the 3rd Viscount Chaplin, released Wall Lizards into a walled garden in Devon in 1954; by the late 1970s the numbers had increased to several hundred; the garden overgrew and there are now thought to be none. Viscount Chaplin was the Secretary of the Zoological Society of London from 1952 to 1955.

Anthony Freskyn Charles Hamby Chaplin, 3rd Viscount Chaplin (1906-1981) was Secretary of the Zoological Society of London from 1952 to 1955. He had the job of sacking George Cansdale,as Superintendent of the Zoo in 1953. For an equivalent media furore over Cansdale’s removal, just think forward to Jeremy Clarkson’s removal from Top Gear. For those who cannot remember, Cansdale was a major television personality of the time. In the BBC’s television studios he showed animals from the Zoo on a large table with a concave rear barrier.  The animals were carried and positioned by uniformed keepers from the Zoo.