Great Bustards found thriving in UK almost two centuries after being declared extinct

The huge birds are being reintroduced to the UK after going extinct back in 1832.


Back in the early 19th Century, Great Bustards were a common sight in Southern Britain. Weighing up to 21kg, with a height of 3ft and a massive wingspan of 8ft, the birds would certainly have been an impressive sights. But the Great Bustard’s downfall all those years ago was exactly what caused it to be so impressive. The huge birds were easy pickings for 19th Century hunters, and ended up being completely wiped out.


The huge birds can stand at 3ft tall. Credit: AFP/Getty Images.


But now, a pioneering scheme set to reintroduce these marvellous birds is allowing them to make a comeback here in the UK. Since 2004, the Great Bustard Group charity (GBG) has been releasing Great Bustards from Spain and Russia onto Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, and since then a strong breeding population has been established. The population has boomed from 10 to 48 birds in just the last three years. David Waters, from the GBG, has stated that the increase in population remains promising: The birds have started to breed”, he said. “We had six nests last year and we’ll have a theoretical maximum this year of 21 nests”. He went on to had that, once the population becomes fully self-sustaining, Great Bustards should be able to continue a thriving UK population without having to bring in foreign birds.


David Waters with one of the giant birds. Credit: Justin Sutcliffe.


All being well, the UK population of “release birds” is hoped to have reached 100 by 2019.




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