1st July 2010
A local Wiltshire Conservation Group is just one step away from receiving EU money to help support the re-introduction of the worlds largest flying bird back to the Salisbury Plain. The Great Bustard Group hopes to bring back their one metre high namesake 170 years after they moved into the pages of British History.
The Bustards became extinct in Britain in the mid 19th Century after being overhunted for trophies. In recent years the Great Bustard Group has sought to reintroduce them back into the wild using eggs brought in from Russia. However due to low procreation rates amongst adult birds, and a sexual maturity age of 5 years for adult males, numbers are slow to grow. The first successful wild chicks were hatched last year and numbers are now around the 17-20 mark.
The bid for EU money, if successful, would enable more permanent staff to help rear and raise the chicks, allow for the expansion of safe release sites across the plain and provide for the long term support of the project. The group, led by David Waters, is expecting to hear if their bid is successful next week when the grant goes before the European Parliament, after having already been endorsed by the European Commission.
Local Conservative MEP, Ashley Fox, recently visited the release site to meet with David Waters and visit the project on the Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire.
“In their day these birds must have made a fantastic sight soaring over the British Countryside. The thought of bringing them back to these shores is an ambition that this Group has carried out for years, often with little support. Next week at the vote they will have my support; this grant would allow a self sustaining population to be created in the heart of Wiltshire,” commented Ashley.
For more information please log onto www.greatbustard.org