EU grant to bring back Great Bustard

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The Independent Online

The programme to return the great bustard, the world's heaviest flying bird, to breeding in Britain has been given a considerable lift by the European Union. An EU grant of more than £1.8m has been awarded to the Great Bustard Project, based on Salisbury Plain.

The project run by the Great Bustard Group (GBG), which began in 2004 with the release of chicks in southern Russia, came to fruition two years ago when the oldest males became sexually mature and mated, producing the first great bustard chicks to hatch in the wild in the UK since 1832.

Once common on grassland, the turkey-sized birds – weighing up to 50lb – were a target for hunters and egg-collectors and the species was driven to extinction in the UK.

The grant will provide 75 per cent of the project's costs.

"It will cover four new posts, new monitoring equipment and even a second release site," said the GBG director, David Waters.