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Rathlin Island becomes safe haven for endangered animals

Some of Northern Ireland’s most endangered animals could find a safe haven thanks to a major land purchase at Rathlin Island.

The RSPB said the 52 hectares of land at Roonivoolin have been bought to safeguard vital habitat that will be used in a bid to help these key species recover.

Among the birds that have been targets for recovery is the chough, a red-legged crow which had been extinct in Northern Ireland for almost 10 years when it began breeding on the north coast island in 2008 after a 19-year gap.

The RSPB is hoping the coastal grassland can also be used to boost numbers of endangered lapwing, snipe and Irish hare and is keen to use it as a starting point to lure corncrake back to Northern Ireland — this spring no corncrake were detected calling here.

For more information on the RSPB on Rathlin Island go to www.rspb.org.uk/reserves/

Linda Stewart

Belfast Telegraph