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Victoria Benns

Victoria Benns is crowdfunding

raised of £15,000 target by 16 supporters

Weʼre raising £15,000 to reintroduce water voles to the River Gara, South Devon

17 days to go

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We are hugely grateful for any donations toward this project, thank you.

Sponsor a water vole? - £35 would pay for the care of one water vole from birth to release and beyond. If you would like to sponsor a water vole that would be completely amazing! Thank you.


Water voles are a keystone species which means they have a disproportionately positive effect on their environment relative to their abundance. By nibbling vegetation they create wildflower-rich river banks with hugely increased plant diversity and are crucial in maintaining thriving wetland ecosystems along riverbanks such as the Gara. This benefits numerous species including bees, moths and butterflies and subsequently the mammals, birds and amphibians that feed upon them. Water voles are also a key prey species for larger creatures including otters, stoats, owls and herons.

The water vole has been part of the British countryside for more than 10,000 years, but recent records suggest they have declined by 90% in the last 20 years alone. Water vole decline is due to a number of factors including habitat loss and predation by non-native American mink and in 2020 they were considered functionally extinct in Devon and Cornwall.

Water voles are a robust species which are quite capable of rapid recovery and we believe these charming and ecologically vital creatures can be reintroduced to the Gara Valley where they once thrived. Derek Gow, the country’s leading expert on water voles and a veteran of many successful re-introductions, confirmed that the Gara Valley was an ideal environment for a re-introduction. Derek will be working with us on the project and has identified a number of places where water voles could be released.

Landowners along the river where the re-introductions will take place are united in their support for the project and are taking steps to ensure the water voles thrive. The local community are also supporting this project and look forward to enjoying the wildlife that will flourish as biodiversity improves.

Over the last few months mink rafts have been in place along the Gara to monitor mink activity. No mink have been detected and there have been no sightings in the area for many years. Nonetheless, as part of the project, the mink traps will remain in place to protect the water voles in the future.

In order to create a long-term viable population we need to re-introduce around 800 water voles in different locations over two years and breeding the first tranche of 400 water voles has already begun. The cost of breeding, feeding, transport, release and monitoring the project will be approximately £28,000. We calculate that each water vole released costs approximately £35.

Through grant applications and personal donations we have already raised enough money to begin breeding water voles, but we still need to raise a further £15,000 to complete the project.

If you would like more information or to become more involved in this project please email

Begin By Starting is a Community Interest Company who underpin this project. More information on this project can be found here:

Water Vole Reintroduction Webpage

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Victoria Benns

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    1 year ago

    Victoria Benns started crowdfunding

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    Page last updated on: 12/22/2023 16.09



    • Kiera


      Dec 22, 2023

      Thanks so much for giving these beautiful animals a chance!

    • Jane Milton

      Jane Milton

      May 16, 2023

      Good luck!


    • Trish Cheadle and Alan Godwin, Totnes

      Trish Cheadle and Alan Godwin, Totnes

      May 1, 2023

      Donation £40 each. The SOUTH Hams is a vole lot better because of your efforts, well done!!


    • Flo Moore

      Flo Moore

      Apr 29, 2023

      I hope the project is a success


    • Ruth at Dittiscombe

      Ruth at Dittiscombe

      Apr 27, 2023

      Thanks and good luck to the re-introduction team for setting up this inspiring project; we look forward to seeing some iconic water voles again along the waterways of the South Hams!


    • Anonymous


      Apr 5, 2023


    • Anonymous


      Mar 28, 2023

      Great project, thank you


    Victoria Benns

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    Victoria Benns

    Victoria Benns


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