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Over 350 species thriving at Suffolk zoo after annual ‘bioblitz’

PUBLISHED: 15:15 07 October 2020 | UPDATED: 15:15 07 October 2020

Entrance to Africa Alive! PHOTO: Ben Thomas Photography

Entrance to Africa Alive! PHOTO: Ben Thomas Photography

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Over 350 species have been discovered thriving at a Suffolk zoo after an annual bioblitz.

Dragonfly pictured from Africa Alive's Bioblitz. PHOTO: Ruth WallisDragonfly pictured from Africa Alive's Bioblitz. PHOTO: Ruth Wallis

The bioblitz, which happens at Africa Alive! in Kessingland, is a 24 hour count of the native nature that calls the zoo home.

Due to coronavirus restrictions this year, the event took place on a reduced scale.

The most impressive find was over 100 species of moth including some large species such as the privet hawk moth and some tiny micromoths, only identifiable by an expert.

Over the last seven years in which the zoo has hosted its annual bioblitz, there have been over 420 different species of moth recorded there.

Speckled wood butterfly pictured from Africa Alive's bioblitz. PHOTO: Ruth WallisSpeckled wood butterfly pictured from Africa Alive's bioblitz. PHOTO: Ruth Wallis

Stewart Wright, local moth recorder who took part in the event, said: “Even without a light trap I was able to record over one hundred species of moth. Africa Alive has such a wide range of trees, making it the most productive site for leaf-mining species that I have ever visited.”

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Other species of field grasshoppers, bush crickets, hawkers, dragonflies and butterflies were also discovered for the first time at the zoo.

20 species of dragon and damselflies have been recorded at the zoo’s lake, many of which have been seen to breed in the waters of the zoo.

Fox pictured from Africa Alive's bioblitz. PHOTO: Ruth WallisFox pictured from Africa Alive's bioblitz. PHOTO: Ruth Wallis

Over 70 different types of birds have been seen in the zoo grounds, including a number of Birds of Conservation Concern Red and Amber list species.

Bat detectors were also used to identify a number of bat species at the zoo including noctule and pipistrelle, and camera traps showed badgers playing, foxes hunting and muntjac grazing.

Other mammals spotted during the weekend included an otter, rabbit and even a polecat or polecat-ferret hybrid – which is a first for the zoo.

Sara Goatcher, conservation education manager, said: “One of my favourite animals to spot during our bioblitz events is the kingfisher – it can take patience to spot them, but their amazing colours and distinctive call make them easy to identify and they often come as a surprise to our guests who see them whizzing past the lemur islands.”

The wildlife surveys at Africa Alive! have now recorded over 1,400 different species using the zoo, and this information is sent on to national databases, and is also used to create a Native Species Conservation Plan for the zoo.


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