The critically endangered Seychelles paradise flycatcher is now breeding on Curieuse Island in a bid to better secure the species’ survival.

As part of a Seychelles National Parks Authority (SNPA) project, Curieuse now has 26 resident flycatchers following a translocation scheme carried out in partnership with the University of Kent’s Durrell Institute of Ecology and Conservation, and financed by the Darwin Initiative.

At the beginning of last December, the first group of individuals were brought over from La Digue, while last Tuesday saw a further six flycatchers translocated from Denis Island.

Exactly four weeks after release on the island the first nest was found, and that chick has recently fledged, marking a positive start for the new population. Another pair is currently incubating an egg in their nest.

The successful establishment of a third population of the species on Curieuse should facilitate its down-listing from “Critically Endangered” to a less endangered category on the IUCN red list of endangered species, a testament to the conservation efforts of numerous individuals and organisations over many years to conserve this species.

The SNPA also manages the Veuve Reserve on La Digue – at one point the earth’s last remaining refuge for the species – and must now monitor and protect the flycatcher populations within both sites.

The project has been in the works for some time, with considerable groundwork having to be done in advance of the flycatchers’ arrival. Improving suitable habitats by removing invasive plants in favour of endemic ones, as well as reducing rat populations will have to be sustained as part of a long-term commitment to the species’ survival. The addition of the flycatcher brings the total number of recorded species on Curieuse to 38.

The first ever conservation introduction of the Seychelles paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone corvina) was undertaken in 2008, from La Digue to Denis Island. The translocation was successful, and that population has grown considerably from 23 individuals to the current estimate of over 85 individuals. The success of the first translocation made it possible to source some individuals from Denis Island for a second conservation introduction to Curieuse.

During the first translocation, the birds were transported from La Digue by boat to Curieuse. During the second phase, the birds were flown from Denis by chartered plane to Praslin and then transported by boat directly to Curieuse. Normally the birds are caught by mist nest and placed in a box for transportation. Before released into the wild they receive a rehydration fluid to provide them with enough energy to explore their new habitat.