The Mauritius Kestrel Falco punctatus is unique to Mauritius and is one of the only nine endemic bird species still left on the island. The species was saved in-extremis with an increase from just four birds in 1974, including a single breeding female, to a peak of about 800 individuals. It has become a world conservation icon as it is recognised as the most successful recovery programme in the world of an animal species and the programme remains MWF’s proudest achievement. However, because of the degradation of the Mauritian native forests the kestrels are now found only on the East and West Coast where they continue to face the effects of habitat degradation and predators. The East Coast population has been monitored constantly since the re-introduction of birds from 1988 to 1993 and has been healthy and stable for the past decade. However, the sub-population of the West Coast suffered a decline and MWF had to resume monitoring there in 2008 after an island wide survey found a drastic reduction in kestrel numbers from the estimated 800 to around 350 birds. The findings sadly confirmed the disappearance of introduced kestrels from the Moka Mountain Range. The current monitoring has enabled us to identify the management which is required to reverse the downward trend in numbers and secure the population. Measures include placing more nest boxes in suitable habitats to increase breeding pairs, studying the genetics of the populations to identify if certain bird’s genes need to be introduced into the other sub-population and hand rear birds to boost population numbers and to re-introduce birds into new nesting areas. The latest scientific findings illustrates that there is no room for complacency and we still need to look after the Mauritius Kestrels.
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