Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Conservation Updates

Mynas trapped on Denis Island to save rare endemic birds
The Green Islands Foundation is currently in the process of eradicating Common Myna birds from Denis Private Island as part of the GEF funded protected area project. Common Mynas cause problems worldwide and spread further every year, they are found on many islands within the Seychelles archipelago after being introduced from Mauritius in the 19th century. 

The forest on Denis Island contains many indigenous tree species providing ideal habitat for several of Seychelles endemic birds that were reintroduced within the past decade. One of these types of birds are the Seychelles Magpie Robins and Common Mynas are believed to interfere with their nesting. During her PhD study on Seychelles Warblers, Jildou van der Woude (pers comms) discovered that about 25% of the warblers she caught on Denis Island had serious head wounds and her subsequent studies gave strong indication that these were caused by Common Myna attacks. Mynas have also been seen predating on Seychelles Flycatcher eggs.

In 2010 a decision was made to eradicate Common Mynas from Denis island. 15 decoy mesh traps were constructed with assistance from the Denis Island workshop. The traps with a live decoy Myna bird in the middle compartment were found to be very effective. By April 2011, 917 Myna birds had been removed from the island – estimated to be 90% of the total population. The project had to be halted after this time due to staff constraints and soon after the number of Myna birds increased rapidly from +/- 78 individuals to an estimated 200-300 birds in 2013.

In May 2014 two students arrived from Reading University – Smita Pandey and Jack West to restart the eradication and catching has resumed. Katherine Raines who has previously worked on Assumption Island eradicating Madagascan Fodies and Red Whiskered Bulbuls took over the project in July 2014 with Fernando Garcia who joined in August 2014.
Since May 2014, more than 80 Myna birds have been captured. Main problems facing the team are interference from non-target species in the decoy traps preventing the catching of Myna birds. Despite many minor setbacks, the team is confident that this project will be successful in the end and will give the endemic birds a better chance to thrive on Denis Island.

For more information follow the Green Islands Foundation blog at