Category Archives: BirdLife

#islands2014 Cousin Island: A conservation Success Story

Cousin Island arial shot for who is nature seyshells-001

Aerial view of Cousin Island Specia Reserve

Cousin Island Special Reserve in Seychelles managed by Nature Seychelles  is “one of the world’s great conservation success stories.” It is no ordinary island. Read More »

The fearless birds of Seychelles

11 year old Iona, whom we know from this post was in La Digue recently and visited the Veuve Reserve. La Digue happens to be the stronghold of the critically endangered Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher, and the Reserve, created to protect this bird is one of the places where you can see the birds easily. When she got there, Iona was told that a new nest of the flycatcher had just been spotted. She went to have  a look and there she was able to observe a pair of flycatchers tending the nest. Here is her account of the experience.

I sailed to La Digue last week with dad, the boys and Liz who works with dad. We walked to La Digue nature reserve where Seychelles paradise fly catchers live. Josianna showed us a new nest which was next to the road and there was a female paradise fly catcher in the nest on an egg.

Female paradise fly catcher on the nest (Iona Varley)

I had wait a bit for the male to come on to the nest. The males as you can see are black all over apart from the beak which is light blue and around the eyes is light blue (above) . The male has a really long tail too (below).

The males are black all over apart from the beak and around the eyes

The female has chestnut brown wings and tail with black edges, black head and beak. the female also has a white tummy and neck. The young looks like the female. The wingspan is 23cm. The nest is made of palm spider web, sticks, feathers, leaves and moss.  November – March is supposed to be the time these birds breed the most, but I think they breed almost all year round. Paradise Fly Catchers are fearless and will go for any dare, because they know people on La Digue are no threat to them. Seychelles people call Seychelles Paradise Fly Catchers vevs and there motto is ” keep our vev flying!” While I was standing on the side of the road trying to take pics of the female on the nest I was surprised that (even though there where so many tourists on bikes) no one came to see what I was taking

59 Seychelles warblers from Cousin find a new home on Fregate

On 7 and 14 December, 59 Seychelles Warblers (Timerl dezil, Acrocephalus sechellensis) were transferred from Cousin Island Special Reserve to Fregate Island Private thanks to a Nature Seychelles-led initiative. The transfer was carried out to start a new breeding population on Fregate Island, making it the fifth island in Seychelles to hold this charming little bird with a story that reads like a fairy tale. The  operation involved a team from Nature Seychelles, the Seychelles Warbler Research Group,  and Fregate Island and the activity was funded by Disney Conservation Fund project  to Nature Seychelles. Birds were transferred using what is called the “hard release” method;  they were captured in the morning, transferred by Helicopter Seychelles and were released on Fregate by afternoon of the same day.  Read more about the translocation on our website: The most amazing conservation success story in Seychelles

David Wright was part of the translocation team.  Here he tells us what it was like to be part of this exciting conservation endeavour.

I’m a PhD student from UEA, in the UK, studying conservation genetics of the warbler. Am part of the Seychelles Warbler Research Group – a collaboration between the universities of East Anglia and Sheffield in the UK and University of Groningen in the Netherlands and working with Nature Seychelles for a number of years. The translocation of these special little birds to Frégate Island has been a fantastic opportunity for me to get involved directly in conservation at every stage of the process. It has enabled me to fulfil a lifelong ambition working in conservation.

My role has involved working both on Cousin, monitoring the population before the translocation and catching the birds to be moved, and on Frégate during and after their release. Working on a small tropical island is wonderful but often difficult; hiking up and down hills, scrambling over glacis and through mangroves in the tropical heat, carrying 45 mist nets and poles for catching birds around the island, with the ever hungry mosquitoes trying their best to drain you of blood…

Definitely not the ‘tropical holiday’ my friends back home thought it was! However, it’s not all hard work, and sitting on the beach watching the sunset with a cool drink in your hand is worth a million mosquito bites. The Seychelles is a beautiful place to work, particularly nature reserves like Cousin which offer such amazing wildlife experiences that it can be difficult to remember you have a job to do!

One of the main highlights of the translocation for me was the helicopter transfers to Frégate. What an amazing place to take your first ever helicopter flight! Seeing the coral reefs, the islands of Praslin, La Digue, Felicité and Marianne looming up from the turquoise blue ocean, Frégate island hazy in the distance awaiting the arrival of its new inhabitants – it’s a view I won’t forget in a hurry!

Dave releasing a warbler on Fregate

Dave releasing a warbler on Fregate courtesy of Paul Nixon

Releasing the birds during a translocation is perhaps one of the most fulfilling parts of the process and being directly involved in that was truly an honour. All the months of planning and hard work were worth seeing each and every warbler shoot out from its transportation box and into its new forest home.

From my experience during the translocation, I’d say the key ingredient is having a good, knowledgeable team. It’s critical you can work together and rely on each other, focussing your skills and effort to achieve your objectives. Being part of this fantastic translocation team is something I am really proud of and will look back on in years to come. Everyone brings their unique attributes and skills to the group and you really feel a part of something special. Overall, the translocation has been a phenomenal experience; the excitement, fun, anxiety, stress, hard work, sense of fulfilment and achievement – it’s been an emotional rollercoaster and an opportunity of a lifetime to be involved in something positive for conservation.

The translocation team by Dave Wright

The translocation team on Cousin by Dave Wright

UK’s Viking Optical champions rare bird

Male (black) and Female Seychelles paradise flycatcher (Jeff Watson)

Male (black) and female Seychelles paradise flycatcher (Jeff Watson)

The Seychelles paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone corvina, Vev in Creole) is the only Critically Endangered bird of the Seychelles due to its tiny population and extremely small range. But conservation action has resulted in the steady increase in its population in recent years and its range has been enlarged after a successful translocation to Denis Island from its home in La Digue.

Now, Viking Optical, a leading UK importer and distributor of high quality optical equipment have become “Species Champion” for the Vev to provide support to this work. viking

Species champions are a growing community of active conservationists who generously support BirdLife (Nature Seychelles is BirdLife in Seychelles) by providing vital funding and publicity that enables work to be undertaken to prevent the extinction of the world’s most threatened birds. Apart from contributing financial support to conservation efforts, they draw attention to the plight of the species they champion.
Viking Optical are also supporting an advocacy and education project to help protect the species in its stronghold on La Digue.

During a visit to the Seychelles recently, Viking donated high-powered binoculars for the bird’s monitoring. The binoculars were handed over to Nature Seychelles at our headquarters by company’s Managing Director Richard Bonnet.

Viking have also began a publicity and branding campaign to attract further financial support. Tim Strivens, a representative of the company, explained that one of the most important things they are doing as species champion is to get the message out about the work being done to save these birds by  branding products they sell with the paradise flycatcher.

We are very pleased to have Viking as species champion.

To support Viking in its fundraising effort please go to this link

The world’s key sites for conservation – on one map

Global map of Important Bird Areas

Global map of Important Bird Areas

BirdLife (Nature Seychelles is BirdLife in Seychelles) has published a map showing the location of over 10,000 of the world’s most important sites for birds and biodiversity, and their protection status.

The map, to be presented for the first time at COP-10 of the Convention on Biological Diversity in Nagoya, Japan, shows the global network of Important Bird Areas (IBAs) identified by the BirdLife Partnership.

Although chosen using standardised scientific criteria based on the distribution of key bird species, IBAs have also been shown to be important for other animals and plants. They provide a “first cut” of the overall network of the most significant sites for biodiversity conservation worldwide. For example, the 30 Ugandan IBAs, covering only 8% of the land surface, hold 74% of Uganda’s 1,247 recorded butterfly species, and 82% of those endemic to the country or the Albertine Rift region.

IBAs have been recognised worldwide as practical tools for conservation, enabling efforts to be concentrated where they will be most effective. For example, with the publication of this new global map of IBAs, BirdLife is exposing the gaps in the world’s network of protected areas. While some 59% of the sites are shown in dark green, indicating that they are wholly or partially protected, the remaining sites are shown in light green, indicating that they lack any form of protection or, in some cases, that their protection status is unknown.

Such information is very pertinent to the CBD Programme of Work on Protected Areas (POWPA) whereby every country has agreed to conduct a gap analysis of its protected areas network. To help with this, BirdLife has made its information on the protection status of IBAs available to governments and a number of countries are already using their national IBA inventories to help guide the expansion their protected area networks. Despite recent progress in declaring new protected the protection status of IBAs worldwide shows that only 26% of IBAs are currently fully legally protected.

“Our government is committed to keeping Palau’s bird populations and their habitats healthy for our current and future generations to enjoy. The identification of IBAs throughout Palau is assisting our communities in planning and implementing their conservation and sustainable development strategies such as protected areas and land-use planning” said Anu Gupta, Director of Conservation and Protected Areas, Palau Conservation Society

Wherever possible, IBAs are identified and documented through a process led by BirdLife’s national Partners. This ensures that the best local knowledge feeds into the process, and builds engagement and capacity for later IBA conservation and monitoring work. By mid-2010, 126 national IBA inventories had been published, in a variety of languages, together with five continental directories. The extensive datasets are managed globally in BirdLife’s World Bird Database, and much of the information is made available to everyone through BirdLife’s website.

BirdLife recognises that successful conservation needs the wholehearted support of local people. Since the late 1990s, BirdLife has been nurturing and networking grassroots groups at IBAs, working with communities to develop site-specific solutions that combine conservation with sustainable livelihoods.

“These collaborations help build social capital, improve accountability and reduce poverty,” said Achilles Byaruhanga, Director of BirdLife Partner Nature Uganda. “In contrast, exclusionary approaches to site conservation can destroy livelihoods and lead to conflict and resentment, and for these reasons often fail to meet their conservation goals.”

IBAs across the world are monitored using BirdLife’s standardised and simple methods for scoring their condition (based on the key species and habitats within them), the pressures (threats) impacting upon them, and the conservation responses in place (such as action plans and management activities). Such monitoring, carried out by local groups, volunteers, government staff and BirdLife Partners, generates data for IBA indices that provide powerful tools for quantifying conservation efforts and measuring their impact.

A PDF copy of global map of Important Bird Areas is available at

World governments fail to deliver on 2010 biodiversity target

“Governments have failed to deliver on the commitments they made in 2002: biodiversity is still being lost as fast as ever”  Says Dr Stuart Butchart, of BirdLife International.

Listen to Dr Stuart Butchart being interviewed about the failure to meet the 2010 Biodiversity targets

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More of this story at BirdLife