Magazine article Geographical

Seychelles Bird Saved

Magazine article Geographical

Seychelles Bird Saved

Article excerpt

The critically endangered Seychelles magpie-robin (Copsychus sechellarum) is back from the brink. There are now around 100 birds on four islands in the Indian Ocean archipelago -- probably the highest number for more than a 100 years.

Centuries ago this striking, black-and-white bird, which is found nowhere else, was relatively common. The slide to near-extinction began in the 1770s when Europeans settled permanently in the Seychelles. Clearance of forests for farming and timber deprived the species of nest sites and food sources. Many magpie-robins were also killed by introduced rats, cats and mynahs.

By 1930 the rugged and remote island of Fregate had become the magpie-robin's last refuge. In 1965 an expedition could find only eight individuals. Numbers fluctuated for many years, but remained low.

The local, RSPB-funded recovery programme was launched in 1990 by BirdLife International in conjunction with the Seychelles government and Fregate's owner.

Nest boxes were erected, food put out, poisonous pesticides banned, mynahs controlled, scrub cleared and thousands of native trees planted. …

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