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Swampy - Shot Dead

I have some very sad news to report.  The body of Swampy, a female crane, released through the Great Crane Project in 2011, was found by a local farmer in a maize field in late September.   The body was handed into the project team, and it was sent, as with any recovered dead crane, for a full post-mortem.   The post mortem found four embedded metallic objects by CT scan, one of which was located through examination and has been identified as gun-shot.  The conclusion is that the most likely cause of death was shooting.  The details have been reported to the local police, as the shooting of a crane is a wildlife crime.  Cranes can not be legally shot in the UK, and we are offering a £1,000 reward for any information leading to a conviction for this crime.  The project team and police are now working hard to continue to raise awareness of the presence of the birds, and their legal status, amongst the shooting and wildfowling communities.

What is particular galling and frustrating is that Swampy was the Project’s best breeding female – having successfully raised two chicks to fledge in Somerset in 2015, and another this year.  She would have been highly likely to go on and make many more successful breeding attempts had her life not been cut short.   She was also a project favourite, having been nursed back to health by Amy and Harry following an incident in September 2011 when she became trapped behind a gate within the crane pen shortly after release.   The bird developed her nick-name ‘Swampy’ whilst still un-hatched, within her egg.  Amy collected the egg from a particularly foul-smelling and treacherous German swamp and in the process managed to fill her chest waders and start to sink -  hence Swampy.

Her mate, Alexander has been seen continuing to raise the 2016 chick, and it is thought that the shooting shouldn’t affect the survival of this next generation bird.  Alexander is likely to find a new mate for the 2017 season – but whether the pair will go on to have the success that Alexander and Swampy did will remain to be seen.


Swampy (on left) with her chick and Alexander, her mate in August 2016


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Damon’s role is to act as the hub of the project - making sure everyone involved knows what is going on and that it is all running smoothly. He is also responsible for project community awareness work in Somerset, construction of the release enclosure, and running the post release monitoring work in Somerset.  Damon works alongside the RSPB reserve teams in Somerset.