A recent study that revealed how illegal persecution is affecting the growth of a red kite population in Scotland has won a scientific research award.
The new award, the Watson Raptor Science Prize, is given for the best raptor study published in a peer-reviewed journal, and is made in honour of two exceptional raptor biologists, the late Donald Watson and his late son, Jeff Watson. Donald pioneered studies on the hen harrier and Jeff was a world authority on the ecology and conservation of the golden eagle.
The award-winning paper: Illegal killing slows population recovery of a re-introduced raptor of high conservation concern – the red kite, was published in the international journal Biological Conservation in 2010. The study, undertaken by RSPB scientists, compared the growth of two red kite populations, one in the Chilterns in southern England and one in the north of Scotland. The researchers found that after 17 years the Chilterns population numbered around 300 pairs, whereas the north of Scotland population only numbered around 50 pairs. The reason for the difference in survival rates was conclusively demonstrated to be illegal persecution.
Well done to the team of researchers, led by Dr Jennifer Smart, for scientific excellence, and especially for adding to the ever-increasing body of scientific literature that shows, unequivocally, that the illegal persecution of raptors continues to affect the conservation status of these iconic species.
BBC news article here