Diguois prove Vev expertise

A series of four focus group meetings held on La Digue – the last island refuge of the Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher – have proved local people’s knowledge of and attachment to the threatened species.
Conducted as part of an ongoing campaign, locally led by Nature Seychelles, to rehabilitate the flycatcher, the meetings grouped a wide range of Diguois and environmental experts, who debated the issues impacting on the island’s flagship species. Around 45 people participated in the four meetings, where participants ranged from teenagers to senior citizens and included people working directly with the Paradise-flycatcher and the environment, as well as those more indirectly involved, such as teachers, utilities workers and politicians.

A male Seychelles Paradise-flycatcher

“The focus group meetings showed us the flycatcher is important to Diguois and that they are ready to give their support to efforts to reestablish its population numbers,” said Terence Vel, Nature Seychelles project officer and campaign coordinator of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE) led, “Investing in island biodiversity: restoring the Seychelles Paradise Flycatcher,” project.
Throughout the focus group meetings participants have placed emphasis on the impact of lost habitat upon the flycatcher.
Flycatchers were once present on a number of Seychelles’ granitic islands but today the entire population of only 200 birds is restricted to La Digue, a situation which raises the danger of total extinction if disease or habitat loss wipes out the birds on La Digue.
“The people that took part in the focus group meetings were clearly aware that the flycatchers are under pressure. We need to mobilize that awareness to bring about positive changes for the species,” said Mr Vel.
Information gathered by the focus group meetings will now be used to inform questionnaires on flycatcher protection, which are being circulated on La Digue.
At the same time as the focus groups were being held, Flycatcher Project Officer Rachel Bristol, was meeting with the members of the La Digue Development Board to brief them on the project.
Mrs Bristol told the board members about the Vev’s current status, its habitat and the threats it faces with the development of La Digue’s tourism industry and increased housing demand.
“The members of the board seem happy with the approach we’ve been taking and are supporting our work,” she said.

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