Red squirrels: On safari in Londonderry

Red squirrels in Muff Glen Image copyright North West Red Squirrel Group
Image caption About 10 red squirrels are thought to live in Muff Glen

They were once widespread throughout Ireland but now going on safari may be the best chance to see one of the island's most endangered mammals.

Muff Glen, woodland on the outskirts of Londonderry, is home to about 10 red squirrels.

It had been feared that the red squirrel population there had been wiped out.

But now nature lovers are getting a chance to go on a woodland safari to see them.

The squirrel safari project - khaki suit and pith helmet not required - is the brainchild of the North West Red Squirrel Group.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Red squirrels are under threat from larger grey squirrels

It has its launch on Saturday.

Pam Hardeman, of the conservation group, told BBC Radio Foyle's Mark Patterson Show that it will give people a "real red squirrel experience".

"We have put extra feeders up to try and get them all to come," she said.

"But you know what animals are like, they never perform on the day."

The 4km trail will take in three sites in the woodland where the reds are known to feed.

Image caption Grey squirrels carry a disease that is fatal to the native reds

The return of the reds to Muff Glen was first reported last year after a cull of grey squirrels in the area.

Greys are culled because they carry squirrel pox, a disease that is fatal for native reds.

They also outcompete the reds for food.

Further sightings in Derry have also sparked hope for the survival of the native squirrel in the north-west.

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