Petrel, Pterodroma madeira
Photo: © F. Viveiros
Emergency conservation work pays off: Zinos
Petrel bounces back!
Europe, News Posts, Birdlife.org. Top Posts, Wed, Feb 15,
Zinos Petrel, Pterodroma madeira,
was Europes rarest seabird even before a ravaging
wild fire hit the
heart of Madeiras central massif, where this globally
endangered bird breeds.
The fire, in August 2010, had dire consequences:
25 young and 3 adults were found burnt to death, and of
the 13 young birds found alive, only one survived to fledge
that year the others were predated in their now
obvious nests on the barren mountain ledges.
Suddenly, the species population which had
been increasing steadily in recent years, thanks to efforts
the Natural Park of Madeira (PNM) was jeopardized.
The situation was grave indeed the fire not only
led to a near-complete breeding failure in 2010, but also
exacerbated soil erosion, causing several nesting burrows
As soon as the smouldering cinders permitted it, PNM developed
an action plan to mitigate the consequences
of this natural disaster. A team of conservation wardens
was deployed to place anti-erosion coconut mesh on
the breeding ledges to protect the soil in some of the most
Then, with financial and logistical support from SPEA/BirdLife
in Portugal, the RSPB/BirdLife in the UK and BirdLife International,
about 100 natural nests were restored, while 60 new artificial
nests were built.
A protective cordon was also built around the known breeding
areas, with cat traps and bait boxes.
When the surviving adult birds returned from wintering at
sea in April 2011, to prospect for breeding, conservationists
were expectant. As the summer progressed, the news from
Madeira got better proof once
again that adequate investment in conservation pays off.
Monitoring of the breeding colony indicated that
45 nests were occupied with eggs laid in 43 of them.
Although breeding success was lower than before the fire,
with only 19 nestlings hatching, the species prospects
looked more positive again. Moreover, fledgling success
was good, with 16 out of the 19 young birds eventually flying
out to sea in October.
PNM and SPEA are now more hopeful for the future
and will keep fighting the battle to save Europes
rarest seabird species.
This work was funded by the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions
Programme, Mark Constantine and many generous donations
to BirdLifes online and World Bird Club appeal. Zinos
Petrel has also benefitted from Save Our Species (SOS),
a joint initiative of the Global Environment Facility, IUCN
and the World Bank, which aims to ensure the long-term survival
and well-being of threatened species and critical habitats
for biodiversity conservation. These achievements would
not have been possible without the funds provided by members
and supporters of SPEA, the RSPB and BirdLife International.
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