There is a secret mission afoot in the West Country. Eggs, collected while the Volcanic ash clouds put most of the world on standstill, were transported from Germany back to the UK by car.

The eggs have now hatched into pre-historic looking birds formerly native to these shores. The cranes are now 100 days old and stand 4ft high. The birds disappeared from the UK 400 years ago when most of our wetlands were drained and they were hunted to extinction.

The project at Slimbridge in the Cotswolds is not revealing where they are releasing the birds to, in the hope that this will give them a head start before the public catches on to their existence.

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The team behind the re-introduction are hoping for success in the same vein as the project to re-introduce the Great Bustard in 2004.

The Great Crane Project (GCP) is a partnership between the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), RSPB and Pensthorpe Conservation Trust, with major funding from Viridor Credits Environmental Company.

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