BirdLife: The Magazine Apr-Jun 2018 - Page 53

Pho to W i kicommo ns Co co n ut pa l ms Cousin Island,Seychelles P rivet Mauritius Mauritius, famously, was once the home of the Dodo Raphus cucullatus – a stocky member of the pigeon and dove family whose fate requires no further elaboration. But while it’s too late to save the Dodo – or its swan- sized close relative Rodrigues Solitaire Pezophaps solitaria for that matter – there’s still hope for the world’s only remaining extant Mascarene pigeon: the Pink Pigeon Nesoenas mayeri. But we’ve cut it fine. The encroachment of invasive plant life such as Strawberry Guava (again!) and Privet Ligustrum robustum, disrupting the habits of this ground-feeding herbivore, is just one of many factors that saw the Pink Pigeon population dip as low as 10 wild individuals in 1990. An intensive breeding and wild management programme has seen that number grow to over 370 by 2013, and the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (BirdLife Partner) is now working to translocate the Pink Pigeon to new areas of Mauritius, in a bid to expand its limited range. apr-jun 2018 • birdlife How about we leave you with a feel-good story? In 1968, Cousin Island, part of the Seychelles, didn’t have much going for it. Most of its native vegetation had been cleared to make way for coconut plantations, and farmyard animals were trampling over what remained. But Cousin Island was also home to the very last population of Seychelles Warbler Acrocephalus sechellensis – which by 1968 had hit an all-time low of 30 individuals. With the species seemingly doomed, BirdLife swept in to purchase the island, and with the help of local conservationists, created a habitat restoration programme, cutting down the plantations and allowing the native vegetation to grow back. The Seychelles Warbler population responded in amazing fashion, swelling to over 300 by 1982. And thanks to translocation efforts, it is now found on several islands, with a population of 3,000 – and increasing. Pho to S t y ve Reineck 53