€2m battle to save the corncrake from extinction
The number of corncrake - one of the enduring sounds of the Irish countryside - is now in "critical" decline despite more than €2m being spent on the battle to save the species from national extinction.
The bird used to be widespread in Ireland but is now found only along the north coast of Donegal and in the west of Mayo and Connemara. Figures obtained by the Sunday Independent reveal that more than €766,000 has been spent on a range of national protection measures in the past two years alone.
Conservationists warn they are now involved in an eleventh-hour fight to try to ensure the survival of a species, so intrinsic to Irish birdlife.
The overall spend since 2011 has reached €2.4m as part of an all-out battle to increase the corncrake population across the country.
But, despite this outlay, the battle to save the bird from national extinction is proving extremely difficult.
According to the National Parks & Wildlife Service, numbers here have plummeted by 85pc since 1978.
In 2016, a total of 108 corncrakes were recorded in Donegal and 60 pairs in west Connaught.
Last month, the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs announced that it was developing a new management plan to design a way forward for the conservation of corncrakes on the Falcarragh to Meenlaragh Special Protection Area in Donegal.