Monday, 5 October 2009

Land of the Dodo 16: Latest news

I will draw this series on the wildlife of Mauritius with some news from the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation, taken from their annual report and latest newsletter. Check out their website – and make a donation!

The MWF Solitude Endemic Nursery in Rodrigues produced 70,000 seedlings of 50 endemic species in 2008. These included 8 seedlings of Ramosmania rodriguesii, which was down to only a single remaining wild plant until cuttings were successfully propagated.

The Mauritius Fody has been downgraded from Critically Endangered to Endangered, as a result of the successful establishment of a population on Isle Aux Aigrettes. The mainland population now stands at 130 pairs, plus another 80 on isle Aux Aigrettes. Reintroduction to Round Island is planned for the near future.

Pink Pigeons exceeded 400 wild birds for the first time in February this year. Once the population reaches 600 the population can be downgraded from Endangered to Vulnerable status.

The recent nesting season for Echo Parakeets was very successful, with 112 young fledging; the population is estimated to exceed 400 birds.

There has appeared to be a decline in the population of Mauritius Kestrel, with a reduction in the smaller population on the east coast. The total population is around 600 birds.

Rodrigues Fody was reduced to only 6 pairs in 1968, but by 2007 had increased to 3,000 individuals,

Rodrigues Warbler was reduced to 17 individuals by 1982, but had increased to 1,000 by 2007.

After numerous nesting attempts, the first Mauritius Olive White-Eye from the introduced population on isle Aux Aigrettes fledged in October 2008.

The translocation of Telfair’s skinks to Isle Aux Aigrettes has proved a success. Not only has the skink bred outside of Round Island for the first time in 150 years, but several introduced pests such as House Shrews, Indian Wolf Snakes and FRICAN Land Snails have declined or died out altogether.

Aldabra Giant Tortoises and Radiated Tortoises were released on Round Island in 2007 as part of a PhD project to determine whether they can replace the extinct native tortoises.

Having recovered from a low of 100 individuals in the 1970’s, the population of Rodrigues Fruit bat now stands at over 5,000.

Finally, a captive breeding programme has been established on Jersey in the DWCT Herpetology department, with the aim of producing enough Lesser Night Geckos, Nactus coindemerensis, for an introduction to Ile Marianne.

PS - Reminder

The research colloquium at Bristol Zoo Education department is this Wednesday 7th October at 5.30. The subject is an investigation of Vitamin D levels in tropical primates at Bristol, and will hopefully provide useful information on the husbandry of these animals at high latitudes - is their enough sunlight for exposure outside to meet their requirements? The speaker is Rowena Killick (RCVS Trust Senior Clinical Training Scholar in Zoo Animal Medicine).

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