A new DVD promoting the protection of the black parrot - Seychelles' national bird - is expected to be launched by the Seychelles Islands Foundation.
The initiative comes at the end of a song and poem competition organised by the foundation as part of its efforts to protect the black parrot. The contest was opened to all primary and secondary schools of the island nation. Around 100 entries were received and winners were rewarded last Thursday.
"The winning songs will be recorded and made into video clips. We will then give all participants a copy of the DVD so that they can use for their educational activities. The foundation will also use these DVDs as promotional materials" said Maria Brioche, education and outreach programme officer of the foundation.
The black parrot is endemic to the Seychelles, a group of islands in the western Indian Ocean. Found on the island of Praslin, its main breeding area is the palm forest of the Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve, which is managed by the foundation. They can also be found at Fond Peper in the Praslin National Park. The birds have also been seen on the neighbouring island of Curieuse, where they have been seen feeding though there is no evidence of breeding.
"The competition was organised to give recognition to the importance of the black parrot," said Brioche. "And also highlight the role of young people as custodians of Seychelles native and endemic species."
During the ceremony the chief executive of the Seychelles Islands Foundation, Frauke Fleisher-Dogley said, "Although the foundation's mandate is to research and to protect the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Vallee de Mai and Aldabra Atoll, we are committed to advancing environment education and engaging with the communities especially the youths."
"Scientific facts and figures excite some of us, but for people to love our national bird -- the black parrot -- we have to engage them emotionally," said Fleisher-Dogley.
The estimated population of the Seychelles' black parrot is between 520 and 900 birds.Although it is protected, it is threatened by illegal persecution outside the Vallee de Mai nature reserve. The species also face competition for nesting hollows with common mynas, and predation by rats.
Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve is a nature park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It consists of a well-preserved palm forest, flagship species made up of the island endemic coco de mer, as well as five other endemic palms. Also unique to the park is its wildlife, including birds such as the rare Seychelles black parrot, mammals, crustaceans, snails, and reptiles.
This forest, with its primitive plant and animal species, is a relic from the time when the supercontinent of Gondwana was divided into smaller parts, leaving the Seychelles islands between the present day Madagascar and India.