The Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher Terpsiphone corvine is one of the world’s most threatened birds and, as its name suggests, it is only found in the Seychelles archipelago in the Indian Ocean. Like many birds that’s populations are restricted to only a few small islands it is now highly threatened by habitat loss as a result of human activity. In addition to encroaching urbanization it is also susceptible to predation by invasive alien species – in this case – rats that climb trees to feed on its eggs and nestlings. The species is designated as Critically Endangered (the IUCN Red List’s highest threat category) as it only has a tiny population of less than 250 individuals and an extremely small range.
As can be seen from this pictures, the Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher is not only extremely rare, it is also one of the most visually striking of Seychelles’ birds. Males have a glossy blue-black plumage, extraordinary elongated central tail feathers and bright blue bill and facial skin. Females are also extremely attractive and have a black head, creamy-white underparts and chestnut upperparts and tail.
While the Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher is still under extreme threat of extinction, hope is at hand. The BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme initiates or supports conservation actions for threatened species around the world by helping with the provision of targeted conservation action where it is most urgently needed. BirdLife International achieves this by working through its global network of Partners to create two significant new conservation communities; BirdLife Species Guardians* and BirdLife Species Champions†.
Nature Seychelles is the national BirdLife Partner and has been appointed by BirdLife International as official Species Guardian for the Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher. They have an extraordinary track record in saving species right on the knife-edge of extinction and have been actively working with local people on its stronghold, La Digue Island, to also protect this species from increasing threats and prevent its extinction for some years.
The paradise-flycatcher is actually the only Seychelles species still listed as Critically Endangered as in recent times Nature Seychelles has had great success in saving all of the other Critically Endangered Seychelles species. The Seychelles Magpie-robin Copsychus sechellarum, Seychelles White-eye Zosterops modestus, Seychelles Scops-owl Otus insularis and Seychelles Warbler Acrocephalus sechellensis have all been downlisted as a direct result of their innovative conservation action. Whilst they are out of immediate danger they all remain extremely rare and thus vulnerable without the sustained conservation attention Nature Seychelles provides.
Until very recently the Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher was confined to la Digue Island. Following translocation successes for other threatened species, Nature Seychelles successfully created a second population of flycatchers on a private rat-free island reserve (Denis Island), providing a vital ‘safety-net’ for the population on La Digue.
With new support provided by BirdLife Species Champions -Viking Optical – a new project to help protect the species in its stronghold on La Digue can now begin. La Digue is a rapidly urbanizing island with habitats being increasingly degraded or destroyed.
The key to saving the remaining habitat and protecting the bird’s long-tern future on La Digue lies in deeper engagement with the local population and Nature Seychelles plan to appoint a full time education/advocacy officer to work with local communities there.
New conservation actions will include an education and advocacy program to ensure improved conservation of habitat, greater involvement from local people and an increased awareness of the need to create new populations of flycatchers on other rat-free islands. To achieve this, the education/advocacy officer will work with key stakeholders including community officials and teachers as well as liaising with local radio and newspapers to spread the word.
In addition to providing vital funding and publicity for the work being carried out on La Digue, Viking are generously providing several pairs of high quality binoculars to Nature Seychelles which will be invaluable to monitor the progress of Seychelles Paradise-flycatchers that can be remarkably elusive and inconspicuous in their natural forest habitat.
* BirdLife Species Guardians are appointed by BirdLife International and are responsible for delivering tangible conservation action on the ground. They are invariably local organizations best placed to undertake long-term action for species through engagement with local communities.
†BirdLife Species Champions are a growing community of active conservationists who generously support BirdLife by providing vital funding and publicity that enables conservation actions to be undertaken that prevent the extinction of the world’s most threatened birds. BirdLife Species Champions can either be individuals or organizations.
Help us save the Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher from extinction here
Click here for a progress report on the conservation work helping this amazing bird.