Conservation and range expansion of the critically endangered Mangrove Finch (Camarhynchus heliobates) on Isabela Island, Galapagos
The Mangrove finch is one of the world’s rarest birds with an estimated population of around 100 individuals. Before 2009, there were three mangrove forests which provided a habitat for this bird; now there are only two. Like many of the Darwin finches, the Mangrove is currently threatened by introduced predators such as rats, cats and a fly whose larvae feed on finch nestlings. Furthermore, like all localized populations, the species is also threatened by potential habitat loss, due to the possibility of devastating tidal waves and volcanic eruptions
The mangrove finch was formerly found on Fernandina and Isabela Islands. However populations have been so seriously reduced they are now only found in two tiny areas on Isabela. It could be the first registered extinction of a bird in Galapagos.
This SOS - Save Our Species project implemented by the Charles Darwin Foundation and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust will monitor the existing populations of mangrove finches while looking for other places where they can settle and thrive. Right now the population is kept small by the tiny areas they inhabit. Together with the people of Puerto Villamil project staff will work to restore an area near the town where they used to live, and hope that by rearing very small birds there they can be encouraged to settle in these wetlands.
This project seeks to improve the status and reduce the extinction risk of the critically endangered Mangrove Finch, trial resettlement and extension of the bird's natural range, with habitat protection for the mangrove forests which form their only habitat.
New safe habitats for the Mangrove finch will be established, so they can settle, breed and increase their numbers under the protection of the Galapagos National Park Service and the community of Isabela island.