An endangered goose is the latest bird to benefit from funds raised by the People’s Postcode Lottery. No one is sure why, but numbers of Greenland White-fronted Geese have dropped by 50% over the last 17 years.
The goose, discovered by WWT founder Sir Peter Scott, is generally a long-lived bird, which makes the sharp decline even more unusual and concerning.
Now PhD student Ed Burrell, who works at WWT Slimbridge’s Conservation science department, is working on a four-year project funded by the People’s Postcode Lottery that will hopefully help to stem the decline.
Ed has already visited Iceland, an important staging point on the species’ migration route, to recce the mission.
The next stage will involve catching and tagging the geese with neck collars and GPS tags so that data can be collected as the geese migrate from their nesting sites in Greenland via Iceland, and the Hebrides to their wintering grounds in Ireland and Scotland.
By tracking the geese and closely monitoring their movements, Ed hopes to determine whether the rapid decline of the species is due to habitat changes, competition from other species, or some other cause.
FACTS IN NUMBERS:
18,000 The estimated number of Greenland White-fronted Geese today, compared with 36,000 in 1999
3000km The distance Greenland White-fronted Geese fly on their migration, covering the distance in two legs of two days each, with a three to four week break in Iceland between legs