Dame Judi Dench, the first woman to portray M in the James Bond M16 movies has teamed up with other Celebrities to help save the Bewick swans. Celebrity fascination with the Bewick Swans project is being matched by the excitement of the researchers from the University of Exeter (UOE) who will study the small swans during their migration. According to a report by the University of Exeter, what makes this conservation project catapult the excitement levels is the fact that a courageous woman will actually fly with the swans in a flimsy microlight for thousands of miles.

Crazy 007 courage

Sacha Dench, a distant relative of M, works with the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT).

She has obviously inherited some of the determination and fortitude demonstrated by the Bond characters because her flimsy contraption that will dangle her in the freezing arctic skies for days on end surely matches any of 007’s crazy exploits.  

4000 miles of flimsy flying

Sacha enjoys flying a paramotor, and told UOE that her “first experience” of para-flying in very cold weather was “in Dartmoor.”  The experience was useful as Sacha is going to fly more than four thousand miles from the Russian Arctic, through Europe and into the UK to monitor the swans as they migrate. Her journey will be photographed and filmed. The real-time information will be made available to researchers who are hoping to find ways to best protect the species in the long term.

Big names join M in their support

M is joined by the famous British polar guide and explorer, Pen Hadow in support of the project.

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Pen trekked from the USA and Antarctica to both the north and south poles and he did it without any outside support. Randolf Fiennes is famous for climbing Mount Everest at the age of sixty five and he is yet another UK celeb to put his name to the swan project. Naturally, the world famous naturalist Sir David Attenborough is involved, as are 'numerous businesses, charities" and interest groups across Europe.

Training and preparation

The flight sets off in September this year but even the most indefatigable explorers put in a bit of time training and acclimatizing. According to the Flight of the Swans Expedition website, the team is training and testing equipment in extreme conditions in France. This involved Sacha obtaining her micro-light license and chatting to Christian Moullec, who has previously trained wild swans to fly alongside a microlight.

An imaginative and daring project

The number of Bewick Swans have declined drastically in the past twenty years and there are thought to be less than 20,000 left alive.

The project researchers will meet with communities along the flight path to discuss and observe factors that might be causing the decline. The project is imaginative and daring and is sure to garner lots of global attention. The decline of animals and plants in the challenging environmental climate of the modern world is becoming old news in many devastating ways. The extreme adventure and the courage and fortitude of those involved will probably be a huge draw-card for animal lovers and conservationists all over the world. Supporters can follow the project online at the WWT’s Flight of The Swans official website.