A team from the University of Kent has successfully relocated threatened Seychelles paradise flycatchers (Terpsiphone corvina) to a different island to help prevent their extinction.
Four females and two males were caught on Denis Island and taken to Curieuse Island, joining 11 males and nine females who were moved there from La Digue Island at the end of last year.
Four weeks after their release, the birds nested, and the first chick recently fledged.
Ensuring a Successful Transition
Moving the birds searchers followed these steps to ensure a successful transition.
- Catching the birds using mist nets
- Delicately marking their tails so they are individually identifiable until their next molt
- Taking blood samples
- Putting the birds in transfer boxes made of recycled cardboard and modified with air holes and placing branches inside the box for birds to perch on.
- Transferring them by plane to Praslin, and then by a boat trip to Curieuse
- Giving them rehydration and energy fluids before releasing them from the hand
Saving the Seychelles Paradise Flycatchers
The Seychelles paradise flycatcher is currently ‘Critically Endangered’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature IUCN red list of endangered species.
Conservationists hope successfully establishing this additional population on Curieuse Island means the birds are down-listed to a less threatened category.
The first ever conservation introduction of the Seychelles paradise flycatcher, from La Digue to Denis Island, was undertaken by the team in 2008.
It was so successful that the population there has grown considerably from the 23 translocated individuals to the current estimate of over 85 birds.
It’s from this population that the conservation team were able to source some of the birds for this second transfer to Curieuse Island.
The rest of the birds are coming from the relict population on La Digue Island.
Translocation a Crucial Milestone
Jim Groombridge, project lead, and Professor of Biodiversity Conservation and Head of Kent’s School of Anthropology and Conservation (SAC) says this is a positive start for this new population.
“The translocation is a crucial milestone in the successful recovery of this critically endangered bird, and represents a highly successful long-term international collaboration between the Government of Seychelles, local conservation partners, and DICE at the University of Kent,” says Groombridge.
He’s hopeful the translocation will lead to a more secure future for Seychelles paradise flycatchers.
“Successes like this are part of what I teach to our Wildlife Conservation BSc students, as these cases require a real understanding of how to bring species back from the brink of extinction,” he adds.
Kent’s Wildlife Conservation BSc aims to find innovations to address the multiple causes of animal and plant extinction whether through habitat loss, over-exploitation, pollution, disease, invasive species or global climate change.