Mauritius: Remedial Actions Underway to Enhance the Population of Mauritius Kestrel

press release

The Attorney General, Minister of Agro-Industry and Food Security, Mr Maneesh Gobin, visited the National Parks and Conservation Service (NPCS) Captive Breeding and Rearing Centre known as Gerald Durell Endemic Wildlife Sanctuary (GDEWS), in Black River, today, where 16 young kestrels were hatched through artificial incubation in the context of the Mauritius Kestrel Recovery Project.

The Agro-Industry Minister was accompanied by the Minister of Land Transport and Light Rail, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Mr Alan Ganoo; the Conservation Director of the Mauritius Wildlife Foundation, Dr Vikash Tatayah; and other personalities.

The Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus), a raptor unique to Mauritius, is one of the nine endemic bird species still left on the island. From four known individuals in the wild and two in captivity in 1974, the species were saved through an intensive recovery programme in the Black River Gorges National Park on the West coast, and in the Bambous Mountain range on the East coast, to reach a peak of about 600 birds.

The population is presently estimated to be around 350 individuals, and a steady decline has been noted in the Black River Gorges National Park, which counts less than 80 birds while the numbers in Bambous mountain are over 160.

The Mauritius Kestrel Recovery programme is thus being implemented by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation and the NPCS, with support from the Peregrine Fund and the Durrell Wildlife and Conservation Trust. The Zoological Society of London's Institute of Zoology is also involved in the project through the provision of scientific evidence, which underpins the species recovery programme.

The objectives of this programme are to safeguard the Mauritius Kestrel population and encourage the population growth by using conservation management techniques such as the provision of artificial nest sites, the removal of exotic competitors from nesting sites, close monitoring of the population, hand rearing of Kestrel chicks from eggs collected in the wild at the Gerald Durrell Endemic Wildlife Sanctuary, under the supervision of an experienced raptor aviculturist, and releases into suitable habitats.

During the visit, Dr Tatayah proposed to Mr Gobin that the Mauritius Kestrel be declared the National Bird of Mauritius on the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the Republic on 12th March 2022, in the same vein that the Trochetia Boutoniana (Boucle d'Oreille) was declared the National Flower on the 12 March 1992, when Mauritius became a Republic. Mr Gobin stated that he would bring the proposal to Cabinet for consideration.

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