A Tale of 2 Birds

Today, I travelled from Mahe island to Cousin Island, via Praslin island on Air Seychelles, where the birds that inspired the logo of this airline thrive – the White Tern (Gygis alba).

When I was growing up in Victoria, the capital city, this bird was common. But the Cape Barn Owl introduced by the British colonial authorities to get rid of rats found the brilliant white-coloured tern easier prey. Ironically,the Barn Owl, a protected species in several countries, found itself labelled an alien predator with a bounty on its head.

In another turn of fate the coconut plantations, where the Ow did hunt rodents successfully, disappeared on the main islands from the 80’s onwards giving way to development. On other islands like Cousin, Cousine and Denis coconut plantations were removed to restore native forests. Where rats were prevalent they had to be eradicated with artificial bait.

Momentous changes represented by the fate of 2 birds

Author: Dr. Nirmal Shah

Nirmal is a well-known and a passionate personality in the Seychelles environmental and sustainability scene having an encyclopedic knowledge of Seychelles biodiversity as well as a wealth of experience in environment management. He has worked in senior positions in the parastatal, government, private and NGO sectors and consulted for international organizations such as the World Bank, IUCN, UNEP, Sida and UNESCO. He has appeared on CNN, BBC, Radio France, PBS, NBC, ABC, SABC and others

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