Late last year, we were excited to report that an incredible milestone had been achieved in species conservation in Seychelles. The Seychelles warbler, once on the verge of extinction has made an astonishing recovery and could well be on its way to being taken off the Red List of Threatened Species. The success has been achieved largely through a translocation program that has increased the warbler numbers. Began in 1988, it resulted in the establishment of four new populations, from the original in Cousin Island.
“A key element of the translocations has been the science behind them; the biological understanding of the species and its needs. It is testimony that good conservation must be grounded on sound science, and that conservation must go hand in hand with science,” says Nirmal Shah, Nature Seychelles’ Chief Executive.
The latest issue of Zwazo, the long running, full colour conservation magazine published twice yearly by Nature Seychelles, explores this relationship. The magazine draws on insights from different local and regional authors who share their experiences in using research and sciences to conserve biodiversity, and to influence management and policy decisions.
In "Research before you Conserve" Martijn Hammers, Sjouke A. Kingma and David Richardson of the Seychelles Warbler Research Group describe the science behind translocations - how the source population is selected, the individual characteristics of the birds, the choice of a new home and the timing of the translocation.
So well do the researchers know these birds that in "Hard Times in Paradise" Janse van de Crommenacker takes a humorous look at the individual she studies, after she discusses oxidative stress in warblers and how it can be used to assess the quality of their environment. She's got the most beautiful warbler, most immoral, most annoying, most relaxed, most confusing....
In "A Shark's Tale" Gregory Burke, a researcher with the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) talks about the SEYSHA project, which is using acoustic devices to investigate coastal shark behaviour. The project is studying the distribution and movements of sharks around the inner granitic islands to provide knowledge needed for their management. In Southern Africa, scientists are also tracking African penguins movement from different colonies using GPS loggers. The results are expected to help identify and demarcate Marine Important Bird Areas.
Jude Bijoux, also from SFA, has been undertaking fish research that is helping with the setting up of the Praslin Fisheries Co-management Coordinating Committee. The Committee is expected to share responsibility for management of the near shore fishery in Praslin. Co-management as this process is called, is seen as a sound approach to sustainable fisheries and authors from across the pond, Richard Lamprey and Dishon Murage, also share their experiences in establishing community conserved areas along the coast of Kenya. And David Derand takes us through the restoration of damaged coral reefs which are important for sustaining reef fish.
Other articles link science to management and policy decisions. The innovative program, Marine Science for Management (MASMA) of the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) has had successes in this area. Drawing from ten years of implementation, Julius Francis provides examples. Nirmal Shah uses results from a scientific paper entitled Conservation Action in a Changing Climate to argue for projects in Seychelles that are change-making and transformational as well adaptive and not necessarily copying those from other neighbouring countries. However, Pablo Manzano shows that although policy is often shaped by science, the relationship is not always smooth. And finally, Liz Mwambui reviews a daring suggestion for conservation communicators: preach more love (of nature) and less loss.
This Zwazo is available for free download on our e-library and at Issuu.