10 September 2015

Did you see our Mauritius Moments updates on our Facebook page a few months ago? If so, you’ll know all about our staff’s recent involvement with the Mauritius cuckoo-shrike as part of our partnership with the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation (MWF).

Alongside our staff technical support, we also provide vital funding to the MWF through our Mascarenes programme, supporting several projects including the conservation of the Mauritius fody, the cuckoo-shrike and the Mauritius olive white-eye (all species of bird endemic to the island of Mauritius) to name but a few.

Female cuckoo-shrike
Female cuckoo-shrike
Male cuckoo-shrike
Male cuckoo-shrike

All of these bird species’ numbers in the wild have been a cause for concern and long-term survival of their populations in the wild has been uncertain.

In 2011, the MWF initiated a census to assess the population size and distribution of the fody, cuckoo-shrike and olive white-eye as well as several other passerine species. The survey has just been completed and the results for some of the species are reassuring – with the populations of fody, Mauritius paradise fly catcher and Mauritius bulbul remaining stable, although still comparatively low in numbers.

The survey also highlighted the importance of both the conservation action undertaken for the olive white-eye and the newest conservation project being run for the cuckoo-shrike, with numbers being estimated to sit between 100 and 250 individuals.

Some of our staff visited the project recently to assist with the conservation breeding programme and field surveys for this species. The first phase of the breeding programme was the harvesting of eggs and chicks from nests found in the Black River Gorges National Park.

The birds were then raised at the Gerald Durrell Endemic Wildlife Sanctuary located in Black River, for release back into the forest. Cuckoo-shrike chicks and eggs are predated by rats and monkeys so conservation breeding increases the chances of survival of the species.

Check out these photos from the recent visits to the project by our staff:

Cuckoo-shrike chicks waiting expectantly to be fed
Cuckoo-shrike chicks waiting expectantly to be fed
The extra lengths the staff go to collect eggs from the wild to keep them safe from rats
The extra lengths the staff go to collect eggs from the wild to keep them safe from rats
Hatchlings only a few days old need to be fed at least every two hours!
Hatchlings only a few days old need to be fed at least every two hours!