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Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus)

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West Yorkshire

Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus) - Details:

Can_be_shiped_to_UK_EU_but_not_USA.gifOne of the world's rarest taxidermy birds now offered for sale

Log No:5630
Article 10 No: 475888/01

Case Size: 35cm x 35cm by 65cm High

The story of the Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus) is one of the most remarkable conservation stories. In pre-colonial time the population was estimated between 175 and 325 breeding pairs. This small population was caused most likely by deforestation in the 18th century and by cyclones. However the most severe decline was in the 1950s and 1960s due to indiscriminate DDT use and invasive species like cats, mongooses and crab-eating Macaques which killed the kestrels and their eggs. What was probably this species' closest relative in recent times, the Réunion Kestrel, became extinct around 1700 for fairly mysterious reasons.

The recorded population dropped to an all-time low of only 4 individuals in 1974 and it was considered the rarest bird in the world. Stanley Temple from Cornell University studied this species for two years and the first attempt in 1973 to breed the birds in captivity failed because the hatchling died when the incubator had a breakdown. Alhough conservation measures were immediately undertaken with the help of a breeding programme by the Jersey Zoo (now called Durrell Wildlife). the efforts to rescue this species initially failed because the eggs were not fertile.

In 1979 a new attempt was undertaken. With the help of Gerald Durrell, the Welsh biologist Carl G. Jones established a wildlife sanctuary on Ile aux Aigrettes. He climbed on the trees and removed the eggs from the Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus) nests. This time the Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus) eggs were fertile and Jones was able to rear the hatchlings in incubators. The wild Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus)' diet was supplemented so they would be able to lay a new egg after the first one was removed, averting any negative impact on the wild Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus) population. Slowly the population increased and during a census in 1984, 50 individuals were estimated. Techniques for breeding, release and "hacking" of young birds were improved with the captive breeding centre becoming a pioneering research institution for tropical raptor and small falcon conservation. The captive Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus) breeding programme was scaled back in the early 1990's as a self-sustaining population was established. Since 1994, the programme serves only as a safeguard should some catastrophe befall the wild population and other rare endemics are now being cared for at the station (such as the Pink Pigeon or the Mauritius Fody).

More on Wikipedia.

By: [Mike Gadd]

Item Location: West Yorkshire

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