A talented artist from the Isle of Purbeck revealed a compelling sculpture celebrating the rare native sand lizard and warning of the delicate balance between humans and nature, in partnership with Amphibian and Reptile Conservation in August 2023. 

The Purbeck Sand Lizard was last spotted returning back home via Houns Tout to hibernate... 

The sand lizard is an iconic native species of lizard that is limited to protected heathland sites in Surrey, Dorset, Hampshire and the protected Merseyside dunes systems. Its small geographical range is due to enormous losses of its habitat. 

Thanks to the reintroduction programme led by ARC, sand lizards have now been re-established at many other sites in these counties and also to places in their historic range (north and west Wales, Kent, west Sussex, Devon and Cornwall).

Despite these efforts, sand lizards can have quite limited distribution even within the protected heathland sites, and in a habitat rarer than tropical rainforest, they are still very much a species of concern - something that this installation attempts to spread awareness of. 

Read about the announcement of this sculpture and the artist's intentions here.

Hear the artist speak about the temporary installation in an interview on BBC Radio Solent here.  

The abstract sculpture of the sand lizard, created by Eilidh Middleton, is laid out on a hill to resemble the chalk hill drawings that can be found in the surrounding area. This choice represents the cultural importance of the sand lizard through its place as part of our natural heritage. The symbolism of the installation's impermanence is a depiction of the potential loss of both the species and habitat.  

By blending art and education, ARC hopes to inspire a greater sense of responsibility and stewardship among the community, encouraging visitors to the Purbecks to take part in the protection and conservation of the region's biodiversity.

The loss of undisturbed habitat is something that greatly threatens the survival of sand lizards as well as plenty of native heathland habitat specialists. The key to preserving both habitats and species is to ensure that the protected areas are interconnected, to allow populations to spread and interact. Here in the Purbecks, multiple charitable organisations joined together to create a "super" NNR and further afield in Surrey, a Heathlands Connections project had just been launched. 

To view the unveiling of the sculpture on World Lizard Day 2023, click here. 

Despite the sometimes bleak outlook, there are always ways to take action to raise awareness, restore, monitor and protect these precious species. Hope is not lost for the sand lizard, reintroductions have been incredibly successful but we need your help to continue to support the UK's reptiles and amphibians.

Support all of the conservation work that we do for habitats and herpetofauna (amphibians & reptiles) with a donation of your choice. 

If you live locally and would like to actively help out on our reserves, consider becoming a volunteer.

If you'd like to learn more, support us more sustainably and keep updated on our work via our magazine you could become a member

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