Red Kites Brought Back From the Brink of Extinction in the UK:
Back in the 1980s, red kites, with the recognisable tail shape that gives them their name, were one of only three globally threatened species in the UK. They were very rare and at risk of extinction due to egg hunters and taxidermy collectors keen to keep a rare piece of nature for themselves.
Conservation experts banned the collecting of eggs and raised some red kite chicks in captivity to reintroduce breeding pairs back into the wild. By 1990 the species started to recover in Wales, though only 38 chicks were raised there.
Natural England and the RSPB worked together to reintroduce breeding pairs of red kites into the Chilterns, where the newly-built M40 actually provided them lots of roadkill to eat! 13 red kites were reintroduced and by 1996, at least 37 pairs were breeding in Southern England. In 2020, there are over 10,000 red kites across Britain.
Although they still face threats from poisoning as a result of eating bait left out for foxes and crows; by eating rodents which have already consumed such bait; or from collision with power cables, the population of red kites is greatly recovered.
Jeff Knott, RSPB operations director for Eastern England said: “In the 1980s, anyone wanting to see a red kite had to make a special pilgrimage to a handful of sites. Today it is a daily sight for millions of people. In a few short decades, we have taken a species from the brink of extinction to the UK being home to almost 10% of the entire world population. It might be the biggest species success story in UK conservation history.”
Photo: Ian BrittonRead More: How can you Help?