Duchy of Cornwall Dartmoor Curlew Project

The Dartmoor Curlew Conservation Initiative

The haunting call of the Curlew, once a familiar echo across Dartmoor, symbolizes the challenges facing our native wildlife. With a dramatic national decline, the Curlew now appears on the UK Birds of Conservation Concern's 'Red List'. Dartmoor remains a critical sanctuary for one of the most southerly breeding populations of this iconic species. Devon has seen an 85% reduction in Curlews since 1985.

Inspired by the dedicated interest of His Royal Highness, King Charles III, in Curlew conservation, in Curlew conservation, efforts to monitor and protect these birds on Dartmoor began in 2005. Initial findings showed only a handful of nesting pairs facing significant predation threats. The National Curlew Summit of 2018, convened by His Royal Highness on Dartmoor, led to a multifaceted conservation strategy. This strategy includes habitat enhancement, targeted predator control, and an innovative 'head-starting' program developed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) to bolster the Curlew population.


Innovative Conservation Efforts

Conservationists remove Curlew eggs from RAF runways in East Anglia for aircraft safety. They incubate and raise these eggs at the WWT's Slimbridge

centre. Afterward, they transfer them to Dartmoor for release into the wild. Since 2021, they have successfully reintroduced dozens of chicks to Dartmoor. Each chick carries unique yellow markings to track its migration and return.

The project's success relies on the collaborative spirit of Dartmoor's farming community. Farmers enhance the bird's habitat through targeted grazing by cattle and ponies and by creating 'scrapes' or wet pools. The Farming in Protected Landscapes programme, supports this work. It helps craft a landscape suited to Curlews and other wading birds like Snipe and Lapwings.


Nationwide Impact

As the UK's only upland 'head-starting' initiative, the Dartmoor project serves as a vital learning ground for conservation nationwide. By combining direct intervention with broader landscape-scale conservation measures, the initiative aims to protect nesting sites, improve chick survival rates, and ensure a thriving future for this majestic bird on Dartmoor and beyond.

Join us in championing the Curlew's cause. This effort is a testament to the resilience of nature and the power of collaborative conservation. Together, we can ensure the Curlew's call once again becomes a defining sound of Dartmoor's wild landscapes.

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