SCOTLAND is rightly famed for an outstanding array of wildlife that is a joy to behold.

Sadly, though, the sight of some of our most celebrated species is an experience many of us will not be able to share.

A new study, commissioned to mark the launch of a new David Attenborough series, Natural Curiosities, indicates that very few people will see some of our favourite creatures in the wild. More than 96% of us have never seen a nightjar - a visitor to south-west Scotland in the late spring - in its natural habitat. It tops the list of the UK's most elusive species, followed by the pine marten, whose numbers are reported to have dwindled to 3300, and the golden eagle, which wildlife cameraman Gordon Buchanan has argued should be adopted as Scotland's national bird. It has been reduced to a mere 442 pairs.

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Scotland has witnessed several remarkable conservation initiatives in recent years, with the reintroduction of the osprey and the red kite two of our success stories.

It is to be hoped that the campaign to protect our rarest flora and fauna will be carried out with renewed vigour in the hope that more can delight in their beauty.