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Bird conservation

The NPTS worked to conserve bird species in Seychelles through the followingprojects:

Roche Caiman Bird Sanctuary

The establishment and management of the Roche Caiman Bird Sanctuary was thefirst project undertaken by the NPTS through campaigning by Ron Gerlach.

In 1986, 4km of coral reef were dredged on the east coast of Mahé and usedto create a large area of land. While this reclamation destroyed aconsiderable area of living coral it inadvertently created an area of habitatthat is rare in Seychelles. The settlement pond used during dredgingremained as a depression in the coral rubble and partly filled with waterat the start of 1987. This coincided with the presence of migratoryshorebirds in the region and the open area of shallow water attractedunexpectedly large numbers of birds.

In 1991 plans were made to fill in the settlement pond with rubbish and coral.A campaign was launched to save the small wetland and protect it asan important site for migratory birds. This campaign was successfuland 29,000m2 of the area were set aside as a reserve in 1992.From that date until 2001 management of the Roche Caiman Bird Sanctuarywas the responsibility of NPTS and the Seychelles Government. NPTSpassed full management responsibility for the Bird Sanctuary to the SeychellesGovernment in 2001.

Since 1992 vegetation changes and bird numbers in the sanctuary have beenmonitored. In the early years large numbers of wading birds were recordedin the open pools and dry areas. Since 1995 heavy rainfall has resultedin deep permanent water, which has been colonised by reeds. The sanctuaryis now mainly used by herons and egrets and has been a major feeding sitefor grey herons (Ardea cinerea) which re-established as a breedingspecies on the granitic islands since 1991. It was a very importantarea for black-crowned night-herons (Nycticorax nycticorax)which where first recorded on Mahé in 1992 and have been suspected to breedon Mahé since 1994-5, although the first confirmed breeding in Seychelleswas on Silhouette island.

The African Waterbird Census

NPTS was the Seychelles national co-ordinator of the Wetlands Internationalprogramme to monitor migratory waterbirds. Full census results werepublished in 'Birdwatch'.

Birdwatch

From 1992 NPTS published a quarterly newsletter on nature reports, conservationand observation in Seychelles. 'Birdwatch' carried reports from mostof the reserves in Seychelles, with regular reports from many islands.All new records accepted by the Seychelles Bird Records Committee werefirst published in 'Birdwatch'. Publication ceased in 2011 when 'Birdwatch' was replaced by 'Seychelles Wildlife News'.