Harvey Tweats and Tom Whitehurst started their ambitious project during the pandemic, using land in the gardens of their parents whilst studying for their A-Levels. They have since secured the backing of Ben Goldsmith and Charlie Burrell – owner of the incredible Knepp Estate and home of UK rewilding efforts. The boys hope that their collection of ponds, sheds, cabins and greehouses, which make up their new company ‘Celtic Reptile and Amphibian’, will be the largest facility for the breeding and restoration of reptiles that have become extinct in wild across the UK, as well as more common species, such as the common toad, which are also declining in numbers rapidly.
“The preservation of these precious animals is in our DNA. By forming a viable captive population we can achieve two very important goals; up-close education and a crucial insurance policy.”
Harvey was inspired to start the project following work experience on a beaver project. He realised that the reintroduction of beavers produced the perfect wetland habitat for reptiles and amphibians, as well as other insects that could benefit from the same ecosystem. The species they hope to restore include a number of European reptiles, such as the Western green lizard, the sand lizzard, the Barred grass snake and European pond turtles, and amphibians including the European tree frog, natterjack toads, and the European green toad.
You can read more about the project on the boys’ website here.