What the Mauritius kestrel can teach us about wildlife reintroductions

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Using decades of data, a recent study analyzed long-term population trends for the Mauritius kestrel, a bird of prey endemic to the island of Mauritius, which was once considered the rarest bird in the world. While an intensive recovery program for the kestrel helped increase the population to an estimated 400 individuals by the 1990s, scientists now estimate there are fewer than 250 in the wild. They link this decline to a halt in monitoring efforts, which occurred, ironically, after the species’ conservation status had improved and prompted conservation donors to stop funding the recovery efforts. Scientists say the key to wildlife reintroduction success is maintaining post-release monitoring efforts after captive rearing, a conservation tool that can be used for species beyond birds of prey. They were once considered the most threatened bird in the world: with just four remaining individuals on the island in 1974, the Mauritius kestrel ( Falco punctatus ) seemed doomed to extinction. Now, it’s a conservation marvel, acting as an example for the translocation and reintroduction of other species too. A team of scientists from five organizations analyzed the long-term trends of four isolated populations of reintroduced Mauritius kestrels in their recent paper published […]

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