Posts Tagged ‘threatened species’

Nature Ramble

Rare songbird faces fire ant threat


Adult birds are black

Rain, rats and fire ants threaten the survival of the rare Tahiti monarch, despite a record best year for its conservation.

Just 10 breeding pairs remain in the wild population, which numbers fewer than 50 mature birds in total.

Efforts to save the birds won an award from conservation partnership BirdLife International.

But experts warn that poor weather and predators could dramatically affect the current breeding season.

The Tahiti monarch (Pomarea nigra) is a species of monarch flycatcher that lives in four forested valleys on the island of Tahiti in French Polynesia.

Adults are black with pale blue beaks and juveniles are a red-brown colour.

Populations of the songbirds have declined throughout the 20th Century, but a local conservation programme that has been running for the past 16 years has succeeded in boosting breeding figures.

In 2013, conservationists at Manu, the Polynesian Ornithological Society, saw a record four-fold increase in chicks compared with the previous year.

Their efforts to manage the forest home of the critically endangered monarchs won the BirdLife International People’s Choice Award, voted for by the public.

School children have been replanting native trees

“Rats are not supposed to be on Tahiti, they arrived on boats and have killed thousands of birds,” said Ms Blanvillain.

“And now there are fire ants on the edge of the valley. If the ants reach the nest they will eat the chicks and adults in minutes.”

Little fire ants, also known as electric ants because of their stinging bite, were first discovered in Tahiti in 2004 and have since colonised large areas of the island.

The predatory ants are native to South and Central America and are considered a pest species elsewhere in the world where they disturb the native ecology.

“Alien invasive species are the second biggest threat to birds,” said Mr Fowlie.

“Across the Pacific, we know a lot of birds have gone extinct because of introduced species,” he said citing destructive animals such as pigs, through plants that provide unsuitable nest sites, down to mosquitoes that can spread alien diseases.

Manu have installed hundreds of rat trapping stations throughout the forest and recruited local school children to help plant native trees in an effort to restore the birds’ natural habitat.

“This is a bird that evolved for this particular island and this particular habitat. It’s always difficult to say what would happen if the species went extinct, we just don’t know,” said Mr Fowlie.

“But it’s one part of a complex fabric of ecosystem and as you start to lose bits the whole thing can unravel. It’s important to keep everything in place.”


Satireday on Eco-Crap


Nature Ramble

Cambodia is not a country we hear much of, unless it is about land grabs and deforestation, so to have a nature story is rare.

Cambodian tailorbird: A new species seen in Phnom Penh

Studies to differentiate the new species from other tailorbirds included analyses of their songs

A species of bird that is completely new to science has been discovered – hiding in plain sight in Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh.

The Cambodian tailorbird (Orthotomus chaktomuk), as it has been named, was first spotted in 2009 during routine checks for avian flu.

More specimens have since been found in regions around the city and discerned from similar tailorbird species.

The discovery is outlined in the Oriental Bird Club journal, Forktail.

Tailorbirds are in the warbler family, and get their name from the meticulous preparation of their nests, weaving leaves together.

A detailed set of tests – from the birds’ plumage to their songs and their genes – has now shown that O. chaktomuk is in fact a separate, new species.

It is exceptionally uncommon for undiscovered bird species to be found in urban contexts, but Oriental Bird Club council member Richard Thomas said that earlier in the year, he “went and saw this remarkable new tailorbird myself – in the middle of a road construction site”.

The authors of the paper suggest that O. chaktomuk inhabits a small area, made up largely of dense scrubland in the floodplain of the Mekong river – at the edge of which Phnom Penh lies.

Birdwatchers do not tend to target this kind of ecosystem because most of the species it supports are abundant and widespread elsewhere in Southeast Asia.

“The modern discovery of an un-described bird species within the limits of a large populous city – not to mention 30 minutes from my home – is extraordinary,” said study co-author Simon Mahood of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

“The discovery indicates that new species of birds may still be found in familiar and unexpected locations.”

Because of the small and shrinking nature of the birds’ habitat, the team has recommended that the bird be listed as “Near Threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List.


Solomon Islands ‘launders’ exotic birds

Specimens of the greater bird of paradise are among those filtering into the trade

The Solomon Islands has become a hub for “laundering” wild birds into the global captive-bred bird trade, says the wildlife trade watchdog Traffic.

Thousands of parrots, cockatoos and other exotic birds have been exported over the last 10 years, they report.

But officials say there are no major captive breeding units in the islands.

The Solomons recently joined CITES, the global wildlife trade convention, which sets different conditions for trading captive-bred and wild animals.

“Declaring exported birds as being captive-bred has all the hallmarks of a scam to get around international trade regulations,” said Chris Shepherd, Traffic’s deputy director for Southeast Asia.

Some of the 35 bird species exported from the Solomons are on the internationally recognised Red List of Threatened Species.

They include the Critically Endangered yellow-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea), and the chattering lory (Lorius garrulus) and blue bird of paradise (Paradisaea rudolphi), which are both categorised as Vulnerable.

Under CITES – the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species – all trade in the yellow-crested cockatoo is banned.

For the others, exports of wild-caught birds are strictly regulated.

Destination Asia

Using records from importing countries, Traffic investigators calculated that about 54,000 birds were exported from the Solomons in the period 2000-2010.

Cardinal lories in cage Cages are full of birds such as the Cardinal Lory (L), but whether breeding takes place is unclear

More than 40,000 of these were declared as captive-bred.

Most belong to species native to the Solomons, but more than 13,000 came from non-native species, mainly originating in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

But Traffic could find no records of these species being imported into the Solomons, either for re-export or to begin a captive breeding programme.

An official from the government’s Environment Conservation Division told investigators: “There are no breeding facilities, only some confusion with storing facilities.

“Most of the exported birds were captured and kept in holding sites only.”

The main destinations for the birds were Malaysia and Singapore.

Source: BBC News Read more

Where are the Solomon Islands?


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