Edinburgh Conference Centre
at Heriot-Watt University

26th & 27th January

On 26th – 27th January, Edinburgh Conference Centre at Heriot Watt University played host to the annual Herpetofauna Workers Meeting 2013. Despite mother nature throwing just about everything she had at us I’m pleased to report that all delegates arrived safe and sound to experience two days of total herpetological immersion.

The weekend started early for some with a meal on Friday evening and continued in to the small hours courtesy of the student bar. The UK’s herpers can certainly put students to shame!

The following morning after a hearty breakfast with some sore and foggy heads, the presentations began in earnest. We had a large and varied number of talks this year from disease to utilising the media and a bit of Nessie thrown in for good measure – we were in Scotland after all! Split in to themed sessions over two days, the presentations were delivered with bags of energy and enthusiasm.

Before the delights of the Gala Dinner the ARG UK AGM took place where Jon Cranfield completed his term as Vice Chair and ARC’s Mark Barber was elected to take his place. Congratulations Mark!Derbyshire ARG’s Chris Monk will continue as Chair for his second year running with Oxfordshire ARG’s Angie Julian remaining as secretary.

ARC’s very own Jim Foster led the infamous quiz ‘Have I got newts for you?!’ which provided some very unique entertainment. Visions of KRAG’s Ewan Shilland miming ‘over grazing’ and ‘necrophilia’ (of the amphibian variety I might add!) will stay with me for years to come! The main excitement came from round 4 – The flying lizard condition assessment. As we sat down to dinner each table/team was presented with some felt tip pens and a piece of paper. We were instructed to make a flying lizard using only the materials provided. Competition was fierce as each team went to great lengths to protect the identities of their designs. After launching and some near decapitations Jim decided we were all winners! The evening concluded with the ARG UK raffle which raised £360 for the 100% fund.

With spirits still high, the second day of festivities commenced. The morning started with the second session of workshops. This year workshops covered; Setting up and maintaining an ARG, Citizen Science, Mapping and managing adder hibernacula and Identifying SSSI’s. I’m looking forward to seeing the outcomes of each but especially the citizen science one, which is very important for gaining the support of the general public. After some networking over lunch, the presentations on Sunday afternoon seemed to fly past. Before we knew it the conference was over for another year and lots of happy, smiley and tired faces made their way home enthused for the 2013 season of herping.

Amphibians and reptiles all over the country are fortunate to have such hugely passionate people fighting their corner to take herp conservation efforts in to the future. In the words of Jim Foster – ARC’s Conservation Director; “we need to embrace emerging technologies, close gaps in our scientific understanding, work together effectively, harness public support and secure a legal and policy framework that properly addresses species recovery.”

ARC & ARG UK would like to thank the following sponsors: