No chicken or beef for little birds flying on big bird
Air Seychelles had some unusual passengers during a recent conservation flight that involved a short island hop
It may have seemed like a flight of fancy, but the mission to save critically endangered birds off the African island of Seychelles was no bird-brained scheme.
A flock of Seychelles Paradise Flycatchers, known on the island as Vev, was flown by plane from Denis Private Island to Praslin Island in the Seychelles.
The birds were moved to the Island in an effort to conserve biodiversity by populating the flycatchers on a third island in the Seychelles.
They are listed as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
The birds are native to the island of La Digue, and were introduced to Denis Private Island in 2008 as part of the national conservation programme to save the species from extinction. It is estimated that there are only between 210 and 278 of these rare birds in Seychelles.
The project is being run in partnership with the University of Kent in the UK and the Darwin Initiative, a UK government grants scheme that helps to protect biodiversity and the natural environment through locally based projects worldwide.
The birds were transported on Air Seychelles’ Twin Otter aircraft, commanded by Captain France Anacoura and First Officer Ramados Prem Kumar, from Denis Private Island to Praslin inside specially designed boxes with ventilation holes and branches for the birds to perch on. “We are glad that Air Seychelles could lend a hand in these conservation efforts to save the beautiful Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher, said Sheryl Barra, Air Seychelles head of corporate affairs
After reaching Praslin they were taken by boat to the island of Curieuse by the Seychelles National Parks Authority, where they were later released after being given energy and rehydration fluid.
Rachel Bristol, the project officer for this Darwin Initiative project, said: “We are very pleased that Air Seychelles was able to provide an efficient and comfortable air transfer for these special birds to reach their new home.
“The support of our partners is crucial for us to save the most threatened bird in Seychelles.”
The species are most easily recognised by the males, which have an all-black plumage with a deep blue sheen and two long central tail feathers that can grow up to 30cm long. The females have reddish brown wings and tails, and lack the elongated central tail feathers.