Tag Archives: BirdLife

What is the point of long-term monitoring in conservation?

Endemic, Enchanting, Endangered

Endemic, Enchanting, Endangered

In a recently published scientific study in the Journal of African Ornithology, the authors of the report, conservation scientists April Burt and Julie Gane collaborated in an analysis of the long-term monitoring of the Seychelles Magpie Robin (SMR) using data collected in the last eighteen years. Read More »

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 http://www.justgiving.com/Seychelles-Paradise-flycatcher

Zwazo: celebrating the International Year of Biodiversity

The latest issue of Zwazo – Nature Seychelles bi-annual conservation magazine – commemorates 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB).

Zwazo" is Creole for Bird

Zwazo" is Creole for Bird

Zwazo’s feature articles  are written by people who are proposing solutions based on field research and who are experimenting with solutions on site. In a thought provoking article, “Can people be trusted with Biodiversity,” IUCN’s Regional Director Ali Kaka draws on experiences from eastern and southern Africa to show why there is a return to embracing communities in conservation for the benefit of biodiversity. Chris Feare’s “Exploitation and Conservation of Sooty Terns in Seychelles” demonstrates the usefulness of robust data for species management, while Rudy van der Elst of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association discusses a programme that documents the diversity of fisheries and their resources in the region. Saving albatrosses from extinction by working with fishing industries and providing innovative and win-win solutions to seabird bycatch is the way to go, says Ross Wanless. Nirmal Shah remarks that sharks are worth far more to the economy alive than they are on a platter served up with chips. Christopher Kueffer brings us lessons learnt in the management of invasive alien species in Seychelles and Wayne Meyer talks about vegetation management on Cousin Island.

A free copy of Zwazo is downloadable via the Nature Seychelles website http://natureseychelles.org and at http://issuu.com/natureseychelles/docs/zwazo21iyb

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

An Experience of a Lifetime…

YvonneYvonne Boles (pictured here), volunteered on Cousin Island from 1st – 31st March 2010. She was on sabbatical from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), the BirdLife International Partner in the UK. In this post she tells us about her experience on Cousin.

My one month being a volunteer on Cousin Island Special Reserve began one very early, snowy morning in Scotland at the end of February. After nearly 24 hours leaving Glasgow, I arrived in Mahe, via London and Doha. Having left temperatures around zero degrees Celsius, to walk out into 80 percent humidity and temperatures staggering around in the 30’s degrees was going to take some getting used to! However, more importantly I somehow had to survive until my bag arrived the next day from London! Thankfully with the help of another volunteer from Germany, whom I was sharing a dormitory with at the Nature Seychelles Office on Mahe, I did.

It wasn’t until sunset the following day that I finally arrived at my destination and home for the next month; Cousin Island Special Reserve. The opportunity to volunteer on Cousin arose because I got a sabbatical from my job back in Scotland. There I work as a Conservation Officer for the RSPB, the BirdLife International Partner in the UK. Now a month later it seems so long ago since that first mesmerizing boat trip and arriving on the beach at high speed, and yet the time has indeed flown! I take that as a sign of how welcoming the team on the island has been and how much I have enjoyed every minute of it!

The famous high speed boat landing on Cousin

The famous high speed boat landing on Cousin

One of my first tasks was to help with the island boat that brings visitors onto and off the island. I also went along on the tours of the island with the wardens and learnt about the plants and animals and after two weeks I was leading tours myself. In the afternoons when there are no visitors there is the monitoring of the endemic species and maintenance tasks to be getting on with.

Probably, most memorable was helping with the ringing of a Seychelles Magpie robin chick. I even got to choose the colour rings that will identify it from now onwards. Prior to coming to Cousin I had heard so much about this very charismatic black and white bird. Therefore, to actually get to monitor and learn about them on a weekly basis has been one of the highlights of this experience. Since my arrival two chicks have fledged; at present one has just hatched and a new egg has recently been laid. Once almost on the brink of extinction and now being found on five islands in the Seychelles; this certainly must be one of the most successful conservation efforts for any species in the world.

The endemic Seychelles Magpie robin

The endemic Seychelles Magpie robin

So what have I learnt from my time on Cousin? How to live the ‘island lifestyle’ with a great bunch of very dedicated local staff, a new wealth of knowledge about some of the plants and animals found in the Seychelles and how to survive with a dozen of mosquito bites!

Saving Biodiversity Saves Life

The United Nations launched 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) on 12 January in Berlin while calling the world to action to slow down the rate of biodiversity loss. In a message to the world UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said, “Business as usual is not an option.” Here is a powerful message that everyone needs to see courtesy of the official IYB website.

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Among activities to be carried out during this year are raising awareness on the importance of conserving biodiversity for human well-being and promoting understanding of the economic value of biodiversity. Dr. Ahmed Djoghlaf, the Executive Secretary of the UN’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), running this global campaign says, “Biodiversity is life and without biodiversity, there is no life on earth. It’s our food. It’s our water. It’s our forest, our fish. So without biodiversity, there is no life. So biodiversity is about our life and life on earth”.

The BirdLife Partnership (Nature Seychelles is BirdLife’s patner in Seychelles) is an official partner of the International Year of Biodiversity. BirdLife’s work on birds, habitats, and communities has helped to keep track of losses and successes in biodiversity conservation. For instance, Seychelles has proven through its conservation successes with habitat restoration for endemic bird species that protecting birds is good for other species too. “There is a ripple effect that benefits people and their livelihoods. Similarly a reversal is interlinked, loss of biodiversity ultimately affects us.” Says Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles Chief Executive.

During the year, progress towards reducing biodiversity loss will be reviewed and new proposals and targets to counter further loss set. Already the World Conservation Union (IUCN) is sounding the alarm over loss of species. “The abundance of species has declined. Species present in rivers, lakes and marshlands have declined by 50%. Declines are alarming in amphibians, mammals, birds in agricultural lands, corals and commonly harvested fish species.” Says IUCN.

A high percentage of this loss is occurring due to human activities. Habitat loss and degradation are the leading threats so is climate change. Species and ecosystems need space to develop and recover. There’s a worldwide call to action. Governments are being asked to balance economic development with maintaining and improving ecosystems and habitats. Farmers are being asked to develop farm diversity and reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizer and adopt organic agriculture practices. 75% of all fisheries are fully exploited or over-fished, therefore there is a need for sustainable use of fisheries or there will simply be no fish left for tomorrow. And climate change has to be combated to ensure that species survive. At individual level, such actions as simply not wasting, and re-using and re-cycling whatever is used can help to conserve biodiversity.

To contribute to creating awareness during the International Year for Biodiversity, the Januarry – June 2010 Zwazo, Nature Seychelles conservation magazine will carry articles and information about biodiversity conservation efforts in the Seychelles.

Global warning – BirdLife’s 5 asks for Copenhagen

BirdLife is the world’s largest network of conservation organisations, and Nature Seychelles is the BirdLife Partner in Seychelles. BirdLife Partners from 19 countries are currently in Copenhagen working to ensure that a new deal is agreed that will tackle the global threats posed by climate change to people and nature.

“The BirdLife Partnership are asking the world’s leaders to agree concrete targets in Copenhagen over the next two weeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions”, said Melanie Heath – Senior Advisor on Climate Change at BirdLife.

Today marks the start of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen where Governments are meeting to agree action to tackle climate change. It is critical that a new global climate change deal is agreed before it’s too late.

In the last century the Earth’s surface temperature has risen by an average of 0.74°C. Temperature rises beyond 2°C are predicted to lead to catastrophic effects on nature, people and the global economy. “Climate change is happening”, added Melanie Heath. “In some places the average temperature has already risen well above the 2°C threshold. There is a window between now and 2015 within which it may be possible to significantly slow down or lower the expected increases in global temperatures”.

Climate change impacts including drought, crop failure, flooding, sea-level rise, and extreme weather events are already being felt across the world, with the poorest people and most vulnerable ecosystems hit hardest. Plant and animal ranges are already shifting poleward and upward, and studies suggest many species will not be able to keep up with their changing climate space.

“BirdLife believes it is essential that the Copenhagen outcomes recognise the vital importance of safeguarding biodiversity, ecosystems and the essential services they provide in climate change adaptation and mitigation”, said Melanie Heath.

Read More »

On Cousin Island, two Seychelles Magpie robin chicks share a nest

Seychelles Magpie robin chicks share

Seychelles Magpie robin chicks share nest

Here are some pictures taken by student Rachel Cartwright on Cousin  Island of an unusual occurrence: two Seychelles Magpie robin chicks sharing a nest. Eric Blais, Conservation Officer and  Cousin Island wardens are keeping an eye on the chicks. Cousin is home to a population of some 27 Seychelles Magpie robins. These are part of a total population of approximately 200 individuals found on five of Seychelles islands. The endemic birds were once on the brink of extinction and were classified as critically endangered on IUCN’s Red List. Their recovery through the highly successful Magpie robin Recovery Program – led by BirdLife International and then managed by Nature Seychelles  – took this species away from the brink of extinction and saw them down listed to “Endangered”.