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BBC Two Springwatch presenter to attend rally at Rainham marshes event to help save protected birds

PUBLISHED: 15:00 30 July 2017

Chris Packham - photo credit Paul Carter

Chris Packham - photo credit Paul Carter

A renowned wildlife expert is calling on animal lovers to take part in a special event to protect birds of prey from poachers.

Female hen harrier - photo credit Gordon Yates Female hen harrier - photo credit Gordon Yates

Chris Packham who fronted BAFTA winning BBC One children’s programme The Really Wild Show will join Hen Harrier Day at Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) Rainham Marshes, New Tank Hill Road, Rainham, on Saturday, August 5.

The BBC Two Springwatch co-presenter is helping to raise awareness of the illegal persecution suffered by these spectacular birds of prey at the free event which starts at 11am.

“If, like me, you have had enough of the lies, corruption and criminal behaviour that are wrecking our uplands and killing our precious raptors, please come to Rainham and be counted,” he said.

“And combine it with a great day out at a fabulous reserve – not to mention a slice of cake in the café.”

Illegal poaching of hen harriers is one of the key factors in its precarious position as a breeding bird in the UK.

Around 600 people joined the first London and South-East Hen Harrier Day at RSPB Rainham Marshes last year.

Chris will be joined by Mark Thomas from the RSPB’s investigations team, which tackles wildlife crime, and Rob Sheldon from Birders Against Wildlife Crime.

“The hen harrier is our number one priority. We know persecution is limiting its distribution and severely impacting its conservation status,” said Mark.

“Together, we can stop the persecution.”

Despite full legal protection since the early 1950s, hen harriers are absent from vast swathes of the UK, primarily because of illegal poaching.

A survey published in June showed there was 545 pairs of the birds across the UK last year, a drop of 13 per cent since 2010.

The survey also showed, that in the last 12 years, there has been an overall decline of around 40pc.

There will be plenty of family activities for all ages and a book signing with Chris.

Live music will also be provided by vocal ensemble Peregrina EnChantica, who will be performing their single Forgotten Names, written about the plight of the hen harrier.

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