Protect Turtle Doves from Extinction

Target: David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom

Goal: Ensure the preservation of the critically endangered turtle dove

The population of European turtle doves has decreased by nearly two-thirds over the last five years, a staggering number that is a strong indicator of environmental damage on a larger scale. Current estimates suggest that only 14,000 pairs of the birds remain in Britain and that this number could diminish to as few as 1,000 pairs by the end of the next decade if something isn’t done soon. Total extinction is a definite possibility in the next 25 years.

The cause of such a significant decline in population has mostly to do with farming practices in both the U.K. and it’s migratory grounds in sub-Saharan Africa. Intensive farming has robbed these birds of their natural habitat and made the shoots and seeds they feed on scarcer. Hunters who shoot the birds during their return to Britain are also partly responsible.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, a charity devoted to protecting bird habitats and populations, recently launched Operation Turtle Dove, which encourages farmers to protect nesting areas and plant flowers that produce the seeds they feed on.

A single charity won’t be able to manage the situation on its own, however. A larger power must step in and fight for their protection. The British government needs more encouragement to change its farming practices and ban the hunting of turtle doves so these birds can continue to survive.


Dear Prime Minister Cameron,

The population of European turtle doves has plummeted to nearly 14,000 pairs. Within the next ten years this number will be reduced to 1,000 due largely in part to intensive farming practices in the United Kingdom.

Although turtle doves are only the first victims, these practices will likely continue to result in decreases in animal populations or other significant environmental damage. It is likely that these birds will become extinct if nothing is done to slow the decline.

In order to ensure their prosperity in the future, farmers must stop destroying hedgerows and nesting areas, and also begin to plant flowers that produce the seeds and shoots they feed on. A permanent ban must also be placed on hunting turtle doves during their migration periods. Enforcing these practices will give them a serious chance to rebuild their populations.


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  1. A recent study by the Dr Stephen Browne of Game Conservancy Trust found that turtle doves choose to nest in thorny overgrown hedges, ideally 4 metres high 3 metres wide, preferring them located on the edge of farmland close to its feeding areas. A loss of hedgerows, and the annual routine of severely cutting back of existing ones, has limited their habitat.
    Less often highlighte the major reason for its overall decline in the llegal shooting of migrating birds in spring and autumn, as they pass over Malta Cyprus Spain and Morocco and other European countries.
    They are traditionally harvested for the table, netted and shot and sold in local markets. But thousands are killed for ‘sport.’ with woefully inadequate enforcement of hunting restrictions and quotas.
    The forecast is the Turtledove will become extinct in the UK in the near future.
    Prospects in the rest of Europe, for this the only European migrating dove are
    worrying to say the least, unless politicians can control and monitor hunting.

  2. Human over population, Greed, Ignorance and Cruelty are destroying our world.

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