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Jan 1, 2008

Species Recovery Programme for the Corncrake

Species Recovery Programme for the Corncrake from ZSL - London Zoo 

An extremely effective partnership between ZSL, the RSPB and English Nature has resulted in the successful rearing and release of corncrake (Crex crex) as a breeding species onto mainland Britain for the first time in nearly 50 years.  

The corncrake is the most threatened bird to breed regularly in the UK. Its numbers declined rapidly in the English countryside during the 19th century, mostly as the result of more mechanised and intensive farming methods leaving few suitable habitats.

Staff at Whipsnade Wild Animal Park undertook intensive hand-rearing – including hourly feeding between 7.00am until 9.00pm for the first six days! – and established a very effective breeding protocol for this fascinating species, using data and advice from colleagues in German zoos.

Several birds were released into the RSPB Nene Washes reserve in Cambridgeshire in 2002 and 2003, and staff were rewarded by the first sighting of chicks hatched in the wild in August 2003. The project continues, with the aim of releasing 100 birds into the wild every year until 2006. In the words of John Ellis, Curator of Birds at ZSL: “…an encouraging start to the long-term recovery of the species.” 

Developed by:  ZSL - London Zoo 

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