Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Two of the world’s rarest birds brought back from ‘very edge of extinction’

St Helena plover (Gavin Ellick/RSPB/PA Wire)
St Helena plover (Gavin Ellick/RSPB/PA Wire)

TWO of the world’s rarest birds, found in UK Overseas Territories, have been brought back from the edge of extinction, a new assessment shows.

The St Helena plover and the Montserrat oriole are no longer critically endangered, according to the latest global Red List of Threatened Species. The bird species have been moved to the lower-risk category of vulnerable to extinction.

The improvement in the two species’ fortunes comes after conservation work to protect and provide habitat for them, the RSPB said.

And an additional £1.75 million from the Government has been announced to save the UK’s only remaining critically endangered birds, the Tristan albatross and Gough bunting, both of which are found on Gough Island in the South Atlantic.

The St Helena plover, known locally as the “wirebird” because of its long thin legs, is only found on the UK Overseas Territory of St Helena in the South Atlantic, where numbers had fallen to just 208 individuals by 2006.

Montserrat oriole (Alistair Homer/RSPB/PA Wire)
Montserrat oriole (Alistair Homer/RSPB/PA Wire)

It was further threatened by the development of a new airport on one of its most important nesting sites, but work to clear non-native vegetation and create new habitats has helped boost numbers to more than 500 this year.

The Montserrat oriole, found only on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, also a UK Overseas Territory, lost two-thirds of its habitat following a series of volcanic explosions that began in 1995.

Management of feral livestock, protection of the remaining forest and a decrease in volcanic activity has helped the bird increase its numbers.

Both species have been downlisted from critically endangered on the new update of the Red List, produced by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Jonathan Hall, RSPB head of UK Overseas Territories, said: “This is great news for two of our rarest birds and is the pay-off from the years of collaborative work with our local partners that have gone in to saving these threatened species.

“The St Helena plover and Montserrat oriole have both been to the very edge of extinction, but have been brought back through a combination of hard work, determination and enlightened funding.”

The Government funding will help the Tristan albatross and Gough bunting on Gough Island, part of the Overseas Territory of Tristan da Cunha, by supporting a eradication programme to get rid of invasive mice in 2019.

The mice have colonised the entire island, which is one of the world’s most important seabird nesting islands, and are estimated to kill 600,000 seabird chicks a year.

Eradication will require a skilled team of conservationists, helicopters, a support vessel and equipment, but is the only proven way to reverse declines of the birds, the RSPB said.

Clare Stringer, head of globally threatened species at the charity, said: “If mice can be removed from Gough, we could see the downlisting of the Gough bunting and Tristan albatross within the next decade, and we can look forward to a future when the UK and its territories will have no critically endangered birds – our unique species will be secure from immediate risk of extinction.”


READ MORE

Decline in species threatens ‘global mass extinction of wildlife’

The world must unite to save the polar bear