Seychelles Magpie-robin emergency response project
The Seychelles Magpie-robin (SMR) (Copsychus sechellarum) is an Endangered species found only in Seychelles. Efforts by conservationists including BirdLife helped bring back the species from the brink of extinction, when only 12-15 individual birds remained. The SMR, previously threatened by habitat destruction and alien predators (rats and cats) was able to recover, following the initiation of a recovery program in 1994. By 2006 the population stood at approximately 178 individuals distributed across four islands (Frégate, Cousin, Cousine and Aride) allowing the species to be down-listed from Critically Endangered to Endangered under the IUCN Red List Classification.
Thanks to a CEPF Emergency Response grant to BirdLife International, a project has been initiated to: (1) Conduct additional tests and analysis and undertake a comparative study on a successful population of SMR to understand why Aride population is “failing”. This is in order to confirm the cause of rapid SMR population decline; and (2) Continue to administer the already availed medicine Baycox Bovis in order to treat the Atoxoplasma parasite on sick individuals.
Already with on-the-ground support from Nature Seychelles (BirdLife Partner), Johanna Storm, a veterinary consultant from Wildlife Vets International undertook field mission in Seychelles from 7th to 27th November 2015, as part of mission to: (1) collect new samples from the SMR populations on Cousin, Cousine and Fregate (and/or Denis if Fregate is inaccessible due weather), (2) conduct an assessment of other hygiene risks, such as drinking water and food, where provided on the islands visited, and (3) provide on-the- job training of Seychelles based staff on disease and hygiene risk screening for SMR populations.
By Paul Kariuki Ndang’ang’a, Ph.D, Team Leader, Species Science and Information Management
Birdlife International- Africa Partnership Secretariat