Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Saving the Seychelles White-Eye on North Island

Seychelles White-Eye (copyright North Island)
The Seychelles White-eye (Zosterops modestus) is an endangered passerine bird species endemic to the Seychelles, currently found on four granitic islands, including North Island. Over the last two years the North Island environment team has been implementing an active island rehabilitation programme, and recently with the help of Green Islands Foundation and Wildwings Management, have initiated a Myna Eradication program.

Endemic Seychelles White-Eye (copyright Katleen Vanherck)
In late 1990s only small populations of the Seychelles White-eye remained restricted to Mahe and Conception Islands. In an attempt to increase this species’ range and to establish additional viable populations, several translocation projects of this bird species were initiated by the Ministry of Environment. In 2007, 25 Seychelles White-eyes were transferred from Conception Island to the rodent-free North Island.
Plant nursery on North Island
North island have invested for many years in ongoing restoration of the native forest habitats. Many hectares of the island have been (partially) rehabilitated and indigenous trees and bushes, grown in the island’s nursery, have been planted. To assist in the ongoing and future success of the island’s population of endemic birds on North Island, removal of Common Mynas is considered an important component of the environmental restoration programme.

Myna birds watching the drop trap
Initiated in May 2016, the Myna Eradication project involves the removing and culling of Indian Myna birds from the island. Several successful trapping methods have been used so far such as decoy trap and drop trap. Six months later and the team has captured 672 mynas!

Ringing of White-Eyes
Since it's translocation, annual ringing and population surveys of the Seychelles White-eye are carried out. The population on North Island has increased steadily to approximately 100 individuals estimated October in 2016.

With the gradual removal of Mynas this is expected to increase over the next few years. But also a Myna-free North Island makes the island a refuge for other species of endangered endemic birds in the hope of securing their survival in the long term. 

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