News in Brief
Stories in this News in Brief: Forest & Bird names Hou the Kakapo chick; Atlas of Patagonian Sea launched; Plan to save world's rarest duck successfully hatched; Flamingo breeding island under threat; Florida sanctuary recognised for international importance.
Forest & Bird names Hou the Kakapo chick - Forest & Bird (BirdLife Partner) has named ‘its’ Critically Endangered Kakapo [Strigops habroptilus] Hou in celebration of the bumper crop of Kakapo hatched last season. Last breeding season was a record one for the Kakapo, with 33 Kakapo chicks surviving, taking the total Kakapo population over the milestone 100 mark for the first time in decades – they now number 124.
Forest & Bird held a competition among its staff and supporters to name ‘its’ Kakapo, and the winning name was Hou – which means ‘fresh, recent or new’ and ‘feather’. The name also refers to Whenua Hou/Codfish Island, the offshore island on which the Kakapo chicks live, protected from the introduced predators that threaten them on the mainland. The Kakapo Recovery Programme is a partnership between Forest & Bird, the Department of Conservation and Rio Tinto, and aims to restore the Kakapo population to a level where it is no longer under threat of extinction.
Atlas of Patagonian Sea launched - Recording hundreds of thousands of individual uplinks from satellite transmitters fitted on penguins, albatrosses, sea lions, and other marine animals, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and BirdLife International have released the first-ever atlas of the Patagonian Sea – a globally important but poorly understood South American marine ecosystem. Entitled ‘Atlas of the Patagonian Sea: Species and Spaces’ the new publication contains the most accurate maps ever assembled for this ecosystem revealing key migratory corridors that span from coastlines to deep-sea feeding areas off the continental shelf hundreds of miles away. The atlas, which is in English and Spanish, will be used to help inform potential policy decisions in the region such as managing fisheries and charting transportation routes of oil tankers. For more information, please click here.
Plan to save world's rarest duck successfully hatched - A challenging mission to a remote lake in Madagascar has resulted in a huge step being taken in efforts to save the world’s rarest duck - Madagascar Pochard Aythya innotata - from extinction. The Critically Endangered bird was feared extinct until it was rediscovered in 2006 when biologists observed 20 adult pochards living on a single lake in northern Madagascar. However, an emergency rescue plan was mounted after a recent visit recorded sightings of just six females. Scientists from The Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, The Peregrine Fund and the Government of Madagascar joined efforts to establish a breeding programme, with the hope of reintroducing the ducks back into their wetland habitats. As a result, a team of specialists recently collected a clutch of eggs from Madagascar which has hatched eight ducklings. “Safely bringing birds into captivity marks the start of a 20 or 30 year conservation project”, said Peter Cranswick from the WWT. To find out more, please click here. To read about BirdLife’s Preventing Extinctions Programme which aims to stop Critically Endangered birds from being lost forever, please click here.
Flamingo breeding island under threat - Kimberley in South Africa is about to lose its world-famous Lesser Flamingo Phoenicopterus minor breeding island. This is the warning of the Save the Flamingo Association following increased inflow of storm water and sewerage runoff into the dam as well as the presence of an urban settlement in close proximity. In one night alone, 65 mm of rain fell, and much of the run-off flowed into Kamfers Dam. “It is possible that hundreds of chicks and eggs have drowned and been washed away in the past few days”, warned Dr Mark Anderson - Executive Director of BirdLife South Africa (BirdLife Partner). The incident was watched by thousands of people from around the world via the Kamfers Island webcam. To find out more, see how you can help and to view the webcam, please click here.
Florida sanctuary recognised for international importance - Audubon's (BirdLife in the USA) Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, home of the largest stand of Bald Cypress trees in the world, has been listed as a Wetland of International Importance by the Ramsar Convention. The official designation underscores the need to protect this vital resource from a host of threats, including invasive species and development in sensitive watersheds for which Corkscrew serves as an essential link. Nearly 200 species of birds thrive in the sanctuary, renowned as home to America's largest nesting colonies of Wood Stork Mycteria americana. Click here for more details.
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