A conservationist who flew 7,000km following the migration of Bewick’s swans has called on the UK Government to help protect them.
Sacha Dench, of the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), presented the document to bring her Flight of the Swans expedition to a close.
The petition, signed by 13,566 people, was a key element of the expedition, which aimed to raise awareness of the decline in numbers of Bewick’s swans and the importance of wetlands along the migration route.
The number of Bewick’s has fallen by more than a third in the last 20 years.
Sacha, who followed the migrating birds in a paramotor, said: “We have lost 90 per cent of the wetlands in England in the last 400 years and nature is suffering because of it. The petition, inspired by the Flight of the Swans expedition, is specifically calling for the creation of 100,000 hectares of new wetland habitat.”
During her three-month expedition following the swans, Sacha crossed 11 countries and experienced a bird’s eye view of some of the challenges the birds face during migration, from temperatures of minus 25C to the risks posed by power lines and illegal shooting.
Together with her support team of conservationists and filmmakers, she visited 51 schools and held meetings all along the flyway, bringing together scientists and local people to promote activities to help the swans.
She said: “The Bewick’s really are amazing birds. Hopefully the signatures of 13,566 individuals will persuade the Government to add their support to the cause to help improve our environment for wildlife and for people.”
Now safely back at home, the Flight of the Swans partnership will continue its work to process all the information gathered during the expedition, to draw up new plans to save the Bewick’s swan.