Zino’s Petrel Pterodroma madeira is Europe’s rarest seabird and one of the rarest birds in the world, nesting only on a few mountain ledges in the rugged central massif of Madeira island. Once on the edge of extinction with numbers down to a few tens of pairs, intense conservation action over the past 20 years, led by the Natural Park of Madeira (Parque Natural da Madeira - PNM) with support from SPEA, the Freira Conservation Project and Funchal Municipal Museum, has seen its population grow to almost 80 pairs.
In recent weeks, forest fires have ravaged parts of Madeira, and on 13 August they hit the heart of the central massif. This area (which is protected as part of the EU’s Natura 2000 network) comprises a very important habitat and supports several endemic plants and animals, including the Zino’s Petrel breeding colony, where many nestlings were still in their burrows.
“The loss of 65% of this year’s potential young is a huge blow to Zino’s Petrel. Our immediate conservation efforts are focusing on helping the remaining 13 fledglings to survive and minimising the risk of further soil erosion on the breeding ledges,” said Ana Isabel Fagundes, SPEA’s Madeira Coordinator.
Encouragingly, the immediate conservation action taken by PNM at the breeding colony appears to be working: “Since our first visit to the breeding ledges, we have monitored the 13 surviving fledgings closely and can confirm that they are still being fed by their parents and appear to be healthy,” reported Paulo Oliveira following his latest visit on 24 August.
Photos: Parque Natural da Madeira
In Association with Birdlife International