The British Herpetological Society


Like many charities, BHS relies on donations in various forms to fund its activities and meet its aims and objectives. We pride ourselves that our running costs (including the production and distribution of our publications) is covered by membership fees, but with spiralling costs each year there is little left for funding of other important and often unique projects in research and conservation.

BHS has been very fortunate to have been the beneficiary of two large legacies that have boosted our conservation fund and hence our ability to contribute significantly to some important projects.

In January 2019 we heard the sad news that Ronald Ward-Howlett had passed away aged 86. Mr Ward Howlett was a long-standing member of the BHS although we lost contact in recent years when he evidently resided in a nursing home. As a professional he had been in banking and finance, listing herpetology as his main interest.  He sadly died with no known surviving relatives and left a large and complicated estate to three equal beneficiaries: British Herpetological Society, Zoological Society of London and the Linnean Society of London.

In January 2020 we received the legacy from Mr Ward Howlett’s estate, a cheque to the value £36,000.  In May 2021, we received a further legacy payment of £30,000. Executing the estate is complicated by the fact that the owner of the residential home where Mr Ward Howlett died has since been jailed for fraud so there are complicated legal matters which are ongoing.

Another long-standing BHS member, Mr Michael Warburg died in December 2020. Mr Warburg was an engineer in automation technology but had a passion for great crested newts, and in retirement was active with Friends of Chorleywood Common (after founding the organisation in 1990), later becoming its president. He left a legacy of £10,000 to BHS in his will, with an additional gift of £20,000 being added by his surviving wife, Rosemary. We cannot overstate how very grateful we are for the legacies gifted to the Society.

We are saddened by these losses to our membership but humbled by their generosity in passing.  These legacies will be recognised as they are assigned to well deserving causes that meet the Society’s aims and objectives.  Such kind gifts significantly contribute to the conservation of our native reptiles and amphibians, for example with the recent purchase of Blackmoor in Hampshire and Parley Common in Dorset, to which BHS donated £25,000 and £10,000 respectively.

By leaving a bequest to the Society you too can help to secure the future for our native reptiles and amphibians, and contribute to their study and conservation. There has never been a more important moment; the world’s herpetofauna faces threats of unprecedented scale, and only a great deal more work – which inevitably means more money - has any chance of alleviating this situation.  The BHS has the necessary expertise and influence, but only limited funds, to make an impact in this vital area.


A legacy to the BHS is a gift that will live forever.

BHS has generously donated funding towards the purchase of 20 hectares (50acres) of Hampshire heathland to Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) from the BHS Conservation/Land Fund earlier this year. This site at Blackmoor is part of Woolmer Forest Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) which is one of the most important areas of heathland in southern England.

Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (ARC) are seeking to raise £206,000 to enable purchase of an additional 19 hectares of Parley Common - important lowland heathland in Dorset.  The BHS has pledged £10,000 towards the target!    Successful purchase of this acreage would increase the area of Parley Common owned by ARC to almost 20% of the total site area - thereby safeguarding an area of heathland on the site in perpetuity.  


Thanks to the efforts of our Secretary Trevor Rose and Website Developer Jen Drage,  ALL  editions of The Herpetological Bulletin  from the very first one dated Summer 1980 to current are now uploaded as PDFs and available on the Bulletin page.   This represents a real achievement and provides a fantastic historical resource.   All editions apart from the latest four are flagged as open access in line with our policies in this area.   

For the first time in many years (possibly since the Society was first formed)  we have regretfully decided that cancelling the 2020 AGM - scheduled for April 25th - is the only sensible course of action given the unprecedented coronavirus situation. 

We very much hope all BHS members and other users of the site are able to stay safe and well  in the coming weeks and months. 

At this point we hope that the planned Amersham meeting on September 6th - annual joint meeting with Thames and Chilterns Herpetological Group - will be able to go ahead (see separate event entry for details) but will of course be monitoring the situation in coming months.


Trevor Rose -  our Society Secretary and developer  of amphibian ladders as a solution to avoid the needless deaths of countless amphibians in drains and similar traps  -  recently travelled by invitation to South Korea to explore and promote the idea of the  ladders being used there.  Read more here:  pdfGoing Global!

BHS Council have agreed to donate £25,000 from the land fund towards the total £250,000 target which, if reached, will  enable ARC to purchase 50 acres of Blackmoor in Hampshire - an important heathland habitat for herptiles.

The BHS funds will be made available to ARC when the pledge and donation target is achieved.

For more details of the site and ARC appeal, please click here: ARC Blackmoor Appeal



The recent 2019 joint AHH / BHS / IHS conference held at Drayton Manor Park  was another great success, with both the Saturday workshops and Sunday conference well attended.  Delegates enjoyed a range of varied, informative and often entertaining talks from our excellent speakers, along with great opportunities for meeting up and sharing experiences and information during the breaks.

We would like to once again extend our grateful thanks to Drayton Manor Park for kindly hosting the conference and their great support during planning and the weekend itself.  Particular thanks to the park Zoo Manager, Chris Mitchell  and Conference and Events manager, Melissa Penn.

A full report of the conference will appear in a future edition of our newsletter, The Natterjack. 

The paper on declining adder populations in the UK ( published in HJ , Vol  29 Number 1)  has received  national coverage both in newspapers - Guardian, Times , Telegraph, Daily Express  - and on radio.   A summary of the study findings has also just been published in Science, both in the online and printed magazine editions.


The paper has been published in the HJ as open access, so can be viewed or downloaded here: Adder population decline in the UK


The Science article can be seen here : Science magazine