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Rewilding superstars

From the tiny to the massive, every species plays a part in the grand design of life. Here are some of the larger movers and shapers native (mostly) to Britain
Beaver2 Sokolov Alexey SS

Wildlife is a fascination for many of us. We absorb countless TV programmes that reveal the wonderful goings on in the natural world. We peer out of our windows at the robins and sparrows, take delight when we see a fox or squirrel, suck in our breath when we stumble across a deer in the woods. 

Plants and animals can be a source of comfort, a welcome reminder of life that exists beyond our often confused minds. But they also make up the fabric of life on which we depend, helping to drive natural processes and shape our world. 

Our rewilding superstars are important to rewilding in different ways, as examples of important species now extinct, as keystone species whose presence or absence has a huge impact on ecosystems, and as flagship or indicator species representing an important aspect of ecosystem health and functionality.

The list only includes larger mammals at the moment, but it will grow…

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Aurochs (cow)

Europe’s original wild cattle, the huge aurochs would have fundamentally influenced the shape of Britain’s landscapes

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A woodland forager and wetland grazer, the mighty elk is a major shaper of landscapes

Beaver SBP PP

Eurasian beaver

Nature’s busy aquatic architect is a formidable tree feller, river changer and wetland creator

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Eurasian lynx

A shy and elusive wild cat that plays a key role in the ecosystem as a top predator

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Eurasian wolf

A vital top predator that can have a major impact on the landscape through influencing the behaviour of herbivores

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European bison

Through grazing, foraging, wallowing and trampling, the hefty bison boosts habitat diversification

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Fallow deer

Native to Asia, the fallow deer was introduced to England by the Normans in the 11th century

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Red deer

Britain’s largest deer species and grandest surviving mammal is a key shaper of landscapes and habitats

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Roe deer

A medium-sized woodland browser with a rusty red summer coat, white rump and no tail

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Wild boar (pig)

This woodland rootler is a resilient churner of the Earth, breaker of bracken and habitat regenerator

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Wild horse (pony)

Wild horses and ponies can play a leading role in rewilding due to their selective grazing of tougher grasses

Main image: Beaver — Shutterstock

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