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Albatrosses & Cuckooshrikes

Road to recovery for rare Cuckooshrike

Implementation of the Reunion Cuckooshrike Coracina newtoni action plan is producing rapid results. Control of predatory rats and cats is a key recommendation of the plan, and already in Réserve Naturelle de La Roche Ecrite in northern La Réunion (Indian Ocean) it has led to four out of five pairs of cuckooshrike successfully rearing chicks, compared to just two out of six pairs raising young at a nearby site without control.

“We are delighted with these initial results,” said Thomas Ghestemme of SEOR, a local conservation NGO who carried out the trial. “Following Mauritian Wildlife Foundation guidelines, we set baits in grids of 7–15 ha. Before and after the poisoning, we trapped rats to get an idea of how many were present. Early on, rat numbers were so high that it was necessary to replace the poison bait weekly for five months.” Cats were also trapped in the grids.Although the population of Reunion Cuckooshrike remained fairly constant at around 120 pairs between the 1970s and the 1990s, it has been declining over the last decade. Currently males outnumber females by almost two to one, and the remaining population is estimated at fewer than 50 pairs and the species is classified as Endangered. It is thought birds once primarily occupied lowland forest, but under the pressures of habitat loss and degradation, forest fires and predation by alien invasives, the cuckooshrike has retreated to a 16 km² patch of mountainous rainforest in the north of the island.

“Next season, we will extend the control programme to protect at least 12 nesting pairs of cuckooshrikes,”says Ghestemme. “We will be joined in our efforts by staff from ONF, who co-manage the reserve, and SREPEN, an NGO who will inform visitors about recycling.”

La Réunion is a French Overseas Department (“Dom”), and production of the cuckooshrike action plan was partly funded by the EU, French Ministry of the Environment and local sources in Reunion Island.Capital campaign for albatrosses

The RSPB, the BirdLife Partner in the UK, is launching a multi-media advertising campaign to raise the plight of albatrosses and increase RSPB membership under the banner Once extinct, you can only imagine.

19 of the world’s 21 species of albatross are threatened with extinction, mainly because of the unsustainable numbers killed by longline fishing activites.

“Few people realise just how active the RSPB is as a conservation charity, both in the UK and around the world, says Jonathan Wright, RSPB Brand Marketing Manager, “We need to change minds to help save the albatross”. Chris Arnold, Executive Creative Director at BLAC, the agency running the campaign added: “We asked schoolchildren what they thought an albatross was, what it ate, looked and sounded like. The answers we got were highly imaginative. The trouble is, if we don’t act to save these majestic birds, our children will never see a real one and can only imagine. What started out as research turned into a powerful creative idea.”

Running in and around the UK’s capital, London, the campaign uses the latest advertising technology, including bluecasting, and targets children and urban charity supporters. Once extinct, you can only imagine features a series of eye-opening and imaginative interviews with children, and includes posters, press, TV commercials, direct mail and door drop literature. Short commercials will also appear on transvision screens in key London stations—the first time a charity has used bluecasting - and work by renowned artist Quentin Blake will also feature.

A website, which aims to collect 100,000 signatures—one for every albatross needlessly killed on a longline each year—has been established at http://www.onceextinct.com

4th July 2014