It’s often the illustrious species that make the headlines when we talk about wildlife reintroductions but Cumbria Wildlife Trust has been involved with bringing other less-publicised species back from the brink.

The iconic water vole, of Wind in the Willows Ratty fame, was once a common sight – or at least sound – in Cumbria, distributed widely in water courses across the county. Due to massive habitat loss and the proliferation of the predatory American mink, water voles have disappeared from nearly all of Cumbria, holding on in small numbers in upland, moorland streams in the north Pennines.

In 2004 the Trust set about capturing water voles from this extant population, breeding them in captivity and reintroducing them to the army training range at Warcop – an area of extensive suitable habitat that will be favourably managed in perpetuity.

A less well-known species is the white-faced darter dragonfly. Again, habitat loss has meant that its range in Cumbria recently shrank to a single site in the north of the county. Working with the British Dragonfly Society, the Trust was able to reintroduce this species to Foulshaw Moss Nature Reserve where, as part of the restoration of the site, it has created vast areas of suitable habitat that now support a thriving population. A similar reintroduction has started at Drumburgh Moss Nature Reserve.

Sometimes, reintroduction occurs by expanding habitat range. At Hervey Memorial Nature Reserve on Whitbarrow, the Trust is trying to re-establish primroses and cowslips to increase the breeding habitat for the Duke of Burgundy butterfly. The loss of these plants is probably due to changes in grazing practices over the years but it’s hoped that by spreading locally grown seed the resulting increase in habitat will enable the butterfly to spread from other parts of the Whitbarrow massif.

In contrast, at Latterbarrow Nature Reserve, primulas abound. Latterbarrow used to be a site for the Duke of Burgundy, but here there are no adjacent populations to try to tap into. Therefore, the Trust hopes to reintroduce the butterflies from captive-bred stock as part of the University of Cumbria’s reintroduction project.

As you can see, reintroduction doesn’t have to be just about species that no one alive remembers. Sadly, much of our wildlife has disappeared in living memory - and seems to be continuing to do so at an alarming rate.