Nature protection bodies team up to save the ‘Vev’


Partnering for a good cause: Dr Shah (left) and Mr Matatiken exchange documents after signing the agreement

The project will see work carried out on La Digue with the island’s school and the local community to follow up on a previous project. Under the 2008 project, 23 birds were moved to Denis Island to create “a safety net population” there. 

According to a recent census, 10 new birds have since been hatched and are doing well, removing the species from the endangered list.

The partnership was formalised yesterday with the signing of a memorandum of agreement at the Nature Seychelles headquarters, Roche Caïman by the heads of the two organisations, Dr Nirmal Jivan Shah (Nature Seychelles) and Denis Matatiken (SNPA).

The new project has the approval of the La Digue Development Board – a very important partner in saving the Flycatcher and its habitats.

Dr Shah noted that the board was a partner in the historic cooperative project that resulted in the successful translocation of the ‘Vev’ from La Digue to the private island of Denis. Some birds were airlifted to Denis by helicopter, he added.

Dr Shah said that initially the mynah birds of Denis Island constituted a threat to the new ‘Vev’ colony, in the same way as they were also a menace to the foddies and the warblers. This meant that the mynah (locally known as ‘marten’) had to be eliminated to a certain extent.

Dr Shah called the new project a unique one for a unique bird on a unique island. He said the bird can be seen as a brand of La Digue.

“Whenever one thinks of La Digue, one thinks of the Paradise Flycatcher or ‘Vev’,” he said.
In a slide presentation before the document was signed, Mr Martin Varley, also of Nature Seychelles, noted that during the past 30 years, 21 bird species have gone extinct.

He said the new project is part of a global effort which can be viewed as the “Friends of the Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher Club”.

Mr Matatiken said safeguarding birds and other unique species must not be seen as only a government concern or that of a non-governmental organisation. 

“It is everybody’s problem,” he said, adding that for instance we also need to protect the trees which constitute the birds’ habitat.

The Paradise Flycatcher is endemic to Seychelles and was originally recorded on at least five of the inner granitic islands in the Seychelles archipelago – Praslin, La Digue, Félicité, Marianne and Aride. It is likely that they lived on all the inner or granitic Seychelles islands.

However, introduced predators and habitat loss have caused them to go extinct on all islands except La Digue.

There are now only about 250 of these birds remaining, most of them on La Digue and a second colony on Denis Island.

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