Working for birds in Africa


Fri, 01/25/2013 - 12:41 -- abc_admin

Seychelles Magpie-Robin Copsychus sechellarum

Image Credit: 
Sue Walsh

The government agency responsible for all environmental matters and the conservation of flora and fauna is the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources. There are four main categories of protected area relevant to bird conservation: Special Reserves; Terrestrial National Park; Marine National Parks; and Nature Reserves.

Seychelles is party to a number of international environmental agreements including Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution.

There has been significant conservation work on individual species.

29 Seychelles Warbler Acrocephalus sechellensis were translocated from Cousin (the only site) to Aride in September 1988. By 2003, the Aride population was estimated to be a minimum of 1,839 birds or some 5 times the Cousin population. In 2004, the African Bird Club supported the funding of the translocation of Seychelles Fody Foudia sechellarum and Seychelles Warbler Acrocephalus sechellensis in order to establish new populations on Denis Island.

The world population of Seychelles Magpie-Robin Copsychus sechellarum continues to increase due to sustained conservation action by Nature Seychelles. The population in 2005 exceeds 100 individual birds. The continued increase on Frégate Island, the stronghold of the species, is considered to be due to the continued provision of safe nesting sites and a ban on the use of dangerous insecticides on the island. A large-scale reforestation programme, using mostly native tree species is facilitating the expansion of the population to parts of the island where they have never previously been recorded.

The latest estimate of the population of Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone corvina is between 218 and 290 individuals. Between 1978 and 1992, 24% of forest cover on La Digue was lost to development. A wilting disease which affects the Takamaka trees is rarely found but is a threat. In early 1996 the number of invertebrates on trees declined, possibly due to an increase in water lettuce. Reproduction will probably decline. One idea is to move some birds to Silhouette (no water lettuce present). It is thought up to 120 pairs could be developed there.

The population of Seychelles White-eye Zosterops modestus is now (1997) about 30 birds. Threats on Mahé include clearance. There is no chance to move the population, but there is the possibility of captive breeding. Suitable habitat is on Silhouette which did have a white-eye population.

The nesting habits of the endangered Seychelles Scops Owl Otus insularis have been a mystery since the species was discovered in 1880. In August 1999, a team of researchers from BirdLife Seychelles found the first recorded nest of this species, at an altitude of 440 m, in the Morne Seychellois National Park. The nest, containing a single egg, was within a cavity in a dead Bwa Rouz Dellenia ferruginea tree.

A project based at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, Cape Town, focuses on bird endemism on Aldabra. Lying c500 km north-west of Madagascar and 700 km east of the African coast, Aldabra is the largest coral atoll in the world and has been declared a World Heritage Site. It is home to at least two endemic bird species, Aldabra Drongo Dicrurus aldabranus and Aldabra Warbler Nesillas aldabrana. The latter has not been seen for more than a decade and is feared extinct. All the other breeding land birds, with the exception of the Madagascar Kestrel Falco newtoni and Pied Crow Corvus albus, are currently classified as endemic subspecies, but some may be distinct species and part of the project involves determining their taxonomic status. The flightless rail of Aldabra, currently treated as a subspecies (aldabranus) of White-throated Rail Dryolimnas cuvieri of Madagascar, will be subject to close scrutiny. It is the only flightless bird in the tropical Indian Ocean and breeds on only three islands within the atoll. It was transferred to Picard in 1999 where numbers have increased substantially although there is no recent population estimate.

Conservation News

4th November 2011: Partnership for Seychelles iconic bird

Nature Seychelles and the Seychelles National Park Authority (SNPA) have joined forces to work on a new project to help protect one of Seychelles iconic bird species Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone corvina locally known as Vev.

The Vev, one of the most beautiful and iconic birds of Seychelles, is still critically endangered because of its small population and small range limited mostly to La Digue. It is the only Seychelles bird still listed as Critically Endangered Seychelles Magpie-Robin Copsychus sechellarum, Seychelles White-eye Zosterops modestusSeychelles Scops Owl Otus insularis and Seychelles Warbler Acrocephalus sechellensis have all been downlisted as a result of conservation action.

The new project will focus on further enhancing the population on La Digue which is threatened by habitat loss, invasive alien species and encroaching urbanisation.

Source: BirdLife

16th January 2007: Darwin lifeline for rare Paradise Flycatcher

A three-year project funded by the UK Government’s Darwin Initiative has been launched to save the Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone corvina, the last Critically Endangered endemic bird in the Seychelles. Once found on islands across the archipelago, including Praslin, Mariane, Aride and Felicite, today a breeding population of paradise-flycatchers exists only on La Digue, where the pace of island developments is increasing pressure on the remaining 200 birds.

“Conservation action has helped several of our endemic bird species recover in numbers, and we’re confident we can do the same for the Paradise Flycatcher,” said Nirmal Shah, Director of Nature Seychelles, the BirdLife partner in Seychelles.

In recent years, the threat status of the Seychelles Magpie-Robin Copsychus sechellarum, Seychelles Fody Foudia sechellarum, Seychelles White-eye Zosterops modestus, Seychelles Warbler Acrocephalus sechellensis and Seychelles Scops Owl Otus insularis have all improved, thanks to action by several organisations, including Nature Seychelles and the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, assisted by private island owners.

“The Seychelles and New Zealand have led the way in the restoration of island ecosystems and species recoveries,” said Dr Stuart Butchart, BirdLife’s Global Species Programme Co-ordinator. “It would be a remarkable achievement to bring the last Seychelles endemic out of imminent danger of extinction.” The project will work closely with local people on La Digue, to ensure measures put in place to protect the birds meet with their approval. It will also include an assessment of the socio-economic importance of the flycatchers to La Digue and the Seychelles, and aims to increase the importance placed on conservation and protection of local ecosystems.

Investing in island biodiversity: restoring the Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher, is led by the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) at the University of Kent and Nature Seychelles, in partnership with the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MENR), Wildlife Vets International, RARE Pride, Denis Island Limited, Kent Business School and the RSPB (BirdLife in the UK).

Source: BirdLife International

29th July 2006: Seychelles Magpie-Robin success

A team from Nature Seychelles (BirdLife in the Seychelles) and the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust visited Fregate Island from the 28 June to 6 July 2006 to conduct a full population survey of the globally threatened Seychelles Magpie-Robin Copsychus sechellarum, and to ring un-ringed robins in order to maintain identification of all individuals on the island.

A minimum population of 82 individuals was recorded - ten more than the previous census in April 2005 and the highest number of robins ever recorded on Fregate.

The Seychelles Magpie-Robin population is now at an all-time high of 178 birds with 82 on Fregate, 46 on Cousin, 32 on Cousine and 18 on Aride. There are also future plans to translocate birds to Denis Island. The species was downlisted by BirdLife to Endangered in the 2005 IUCN Red List.

Source: Birdlife International News

4th May 2006: Record bird numbers slip towards extinction

BirdLife's annual evaluation of how the world's bird species are faring shows that the total number considered threatened with extinction is now 1,210. When combined with the number of Near Threatened species this gives a record total of 2,005 species in trouble – more than a fifth of the planet’s 9,799 total species.

However, it is not all bad news: the Seychelles Fody Foudia sechellarum, a small yellowish songbird has been downlisted to Near Threatened. Habitat management and conservation measures have encouraged the regeneration of natural woodland on its island homes and are thought to have been key factors in the recent substantial population increase. Nature Seychelles (BirdLife in the Seychelles) has also recently translocated birds to Denis and Aride Islands where self-sustaining populations are now established.

Source: BirdLife International News

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