Strictly Come Dancing and Springwatch presenters support project to save endangered Turtle Doves

On the brink: Turtle dove numbers have dwindled by 93 per cent since the 1970s; a conservation scheme is working to reverse the trend. Picture: Richard Bennett
On the brink: Turtle dove numbers have dwindled by 93 per cent since the 1970s; a conservation scheme is working to reverse the trend. Picture: Richard Bennett
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Celebrities including Claudia Winkleman and Chris Packham have helped raise funds for a North Yorkshire project which is working halt the decline of the critically endangered Turtle Dove.

The Strictly Come Dancing and Springwatch presenters both donated sketches to doodle-a-dove which, along with 30 others by the likes of Ben Kingsley, Jim Broadbent and Jessica Hynes, were sold online in aid of the North Yorkshire Turtle Dove Project.

Since the 1970s, there has been a 93 per cent decline in the Turtle Dove population and there may now be fewer than 100 birds nesting across Yorkshire.

The conservation scheme which is funded by a number of local organisations, is working to reverse the trend and has recently been awarded the title of Best Conservation Project within the UK’s 15 National Parks.
The Turtle Dove Project Officer, Richard Baines, said: “Even though we still need more funding to keep the project going, the support we have had has been overwhelming.

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“These contributions are vital towards reversing the major decline of Turtle Doves that now leaves these once common creatures fighting for survival.

“We’re very fortunate that the landscape of the North York Moors provides one of the last remaining strongholds for the species and we are absolutely committed to increasing the amount of suitable habitats for them. This unique bird is on the brink and we must all do what we can to help.”

Along with the £1,700 raised by the doodles, £2,730 was raised at two silent art auctions held at the Inspired by gallery in Danby and the Low Daltby Courtyard in Dalby Forest. Both included works by celebrated artists including Alan Hunt and Jo Ruth.

Two staff members from the British Trust for Ornithology, Nick Moran and Jonny Rankin, also raised more than £3,000 on a 163-mile cycle challenge followed by a marathon. Mr Moran also completed a further 171-mile bike ride.