Birdwatch News Archive
Falkland populations of Black-browed Albatross appear to be on the increase. Photo by BirdLife International.
Island seabirds receive a boostBirdwatch news team
Posted on: 26 Jul 2012
‘Petrel detector’ dogs on the archipelago of Fiji have discovered a colony of Collared Petrels on Gau Island, while in the South Atlantic, a new report indicates a healthy increase in the numbers of Black-browed Albatrosses breeding in the Falkland Islands, BirdLife International has said.
Collared Petrel is classified and Vulnerable by IUCN. Little is understood about this secretive bird and it is currently known to breed only in Fiji. Specially trained dogs, Bob and Tar, located 25 petrel burrows on Delaisavu, a hillside above the village of Navukailagi in the north of the island. Four months of scouring Gau had previously only revealed eight burrows.
Petrel detector dog Bob takes a breather on Gau.
Handlers Eleazar O’Conner and Poasa Qalo have taken the dogs up hills and down slopes which show no signs that anyone has ever been there before. But all the forest on Gau has to be methodically checked for nesting petrels. The search is part of the Fiji Petrel Project, a programme aimed at discovering burrows of the very rare and Critically Endangered Fiji Petrel, and the discovery raises hopes that Fiji Petrel could be found breeding on Gau.
In other positive news, numbers of Black-browed Albatross – also classified as Endangered – have increased in the Falkland Islands. Aerial and ground-based surveys conducted in 2010 reveal an increase in the population between 2005 and 2010 of at least 4 per cent per annum. More than two-thirds of the global population breed in the Falkland Islands, so the status of the Falklands population has significant bearing on the global conservation status of the species.
Dr Cleo Small from RSPB/BirdLife’s Global Seabird Programme said: “When 17 out of the world’s 22 species of albatross are listed as threatened with extinction, it is hugely encouraging that Black-browed Albatross colonies in the Falkland Islands are now known to be increasing. There is still some way to go – with the UK Overseas Territories other major population on South Georgia continuing to decline. But this result gives us great hope for turning around the fortunes of other albatrosses.”
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