Species Recovery Centre

Bringing back lost species…


The Species Recovery Centre at Rewilding Coombeshead is seeking to recover lost UK species and reinforce wild stocks of endangered species by captive breeding for release.  We collate these species into a central location, then build the captive breeding knowledge required to produce these creatures in quantity. This allows us to deliver lost and rare species in volume to landscapes across the UK. This model has already been proven with water voles, 3000 of which are now produced annually in the Species Recovery Centre for successful release in nature recovery projects across the UK.  The Species Recovery Centre is currently working with elven species, Beavers, Wild Cats, White Storks, Watervoles, Harvest Mice, Gloworms, Mole Crickets, Adders, Black Grouse, Turtle Doves and Red Backed Shrike.

The wildcat (Felis silvestris silvestris), used to be widely distributed across Britain, but habitat loss and intense persecution reduced it, by the beginning of the 20th century, to a tiny population in the far north of Scotland. The species is now Critically Endangered, and the remaining population is threatened by hybridisation with domestic cats. Come and see for our wildcat breeding programme yourself. Learn more about their lifestyle and how our project to reintroduce them to England could help stop their decline. We have the largest breeding facility for this species in England, where we hope to breed kittens for release.

Animal Encounters

White Storks
The white stork (Ciconia Ciconia) used to be a common bird in British wetlands. Hunting and habitat loss decimated their populations. The last breeding pair was seen in Edinburgh in 1416. We now have begun an ambitious project to breed these birds and restore them to Britain. Join us for a guided tour of our white stork breeding colony and learn more about the history and future of these birds.

Animal Encounters

Water voles
The water vole (Arvicola amphibius) was once a common and familiar British mammal, inhabiting virtually all fresh water landscapes across the country. However, habitat loss and the escape of North American mink (Neovision vison) from fur farms has reduced their population by around 90%. The Derek Gow Consultancy runs the largest purpose-built breeding unit for water voles in the UK and has been involved in many reintroduction projects across the country for the last 10+ years.

Find out more about these species on a wild walk

Harvest Mouse

The harvest mouse (Micromys minutus) is Britain’s smallest rodent and specialised for living among tall grasses and shrubs where it weaves an intricate cricket ball-sized nest above the ground. Once abundant in floodplains and cereal fields, agricultural intensification and an over-tidying of the countryside appears to have reduced its prevalence in Britain. By breeding and releasing this species in areas where it has gone locally extinct or new habitat has been created, we are hoping to strengthen this delightful mammal’s future in Britain.

Animal Encounters


Glow-worms, despite their name, are a species of beetle that favours rough grasslands, meadows, rides and verges that are rich in their snail and slug prey – but it is the female’s ability to produce a bioluminescent glow that has lead to this species being revered by humans for millennia.

After spending 2-3 years as larvae, the adults live for only 2-3 weeks, but it is in this time that the female glows to attract a potential mate, with a light produced by a biochemical reaction strong enough to be visible up to 10 metres away. Glow-worms don’t disperse very far, this means that they are very susceptible to isolation effects, lessening genetic variation and increasing local extinction risk. This means that even suitable sites may remain uncolonised. Intensified agriculture, ‘tidy’ gardening, repeated mowing, strimming, routine use of pesticides, herbicides, and increased light pollution have cumulatively resulted in a massive decline in this animal’s numbers.

Animal Encounters

White Stork
Water vole

Viper bera

Britain’s only venomous snake is in serious decline since agricultural intensification through hedgerow and woodland removal reduced its habitat.  It is now confined mainly to open moorland, woodland and coastal sites.  It hunts small mammals, lizards and ground nesting birds.


Upcott Grange
Lifton  Devon
PL16 0JS.

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+44 (0)7714 767 522