POACHERS of rare freshwater pearl mussels are being targeted.
The Isle of Harris, where colonies of the protected species were removed last year, is one of 16 locations in Scotland involved in the initiative.
Scottish freshwater pearl mussels are an endangered species and protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.
In 2011, they joined giant pandas and Javan rhinos on a list of 365 of the world’s most endangered species.
Poachers were suspected when mussels were removed from remote areas of Harris last June.
Police suggested that they may have been taken by someone unaware of their legal protection.
Pearls in Peril employs river watchers to gather information on where mussels have been disturbed in the past.
The scheme also tries to raise awareness locally about the creatures’ protected status.
Rivers and Fisheries Trusts Scotland (Rafts) is involved in the Scottish effort.
During this year’s campaign the organisation will work with the River Ness and Beauly Fisheries Trust in the Inverness area.