Zoologists are seriously concerned about the falling numbers of Darrens in Essex.
Population levels have been steadily declining since the late eighties, and if the trend continues the numbers could dwindle to below a sustainable threshold in just two years.
Researchers blame this on the introduction of Garys from neighbouring Sussex. The first Garys were spotted in the area about twelve years ago, possibly after stowing themselves away inside baskets of fruit, or under the wheel arches of Transit vans.
This initial invasion rapidly grew into an epidemic as literally thousands of Garys flooded into the area, displacing the native population of Darrens and getting off with their girlfriends.
Braintree or Southminster
Nowadays there are no Darrens to be found anywhere in Braintree or Southminster, and only a small protected colony in Saffron Walden. However, biologists at Essex University have two very healthy captive specimens and hope to use them for breeding purposes.
But then, whatever biologists get up to in their spare time is entirely their own affair.
Distribution map of Darrens and Garys in Essex
(© The National Darren Observatory)