Since their permanent establishment in 1646, human colonists have brought about the loss of 75% of the native vegetation area (around 650 km2 remain) and 50% of the native vertebrate fauna including 55% of the birds. In addition, numerous species have been introduced of which 592 plants, 8 mammal, 20 bird and 12 reptile species have become naturalised. Native species and ecosystems are threatened by exotic species invasion and once established, active management is required if conservation is to be achieved.
There are four direct human threats to bird populations: illegal hunting; opening of new paths and tracks into forest areas; fire in the drier areas; and the disorientation of seabirds when taking their first flights, caused by artificial lights. A programme to rescue disoriented birds especially Barau’s Petrel Pterodroma baraui (500 birds in 1998) is carried out each year.
Several existing and proposed categories of protected area exist: Nature Reserve; Protected Biotope; State Biological Reserve; Other reserves; and Reserves to be established. Four of the Iles Eparses became Nature Reserves in 1975 although these designations have not been approved nationally. France has signed and ratified a large number of international environmental treaties.
20th September 2006: Implementation of the Réunion Cuckoo-Shrike Coracina newtoni action plan is producing rapid results.
Control of predatory rats and cats is a key recommendation of the plan, and already in Réserve Naturelle de La Roche Ecrite in northern La Réunion (Indian Ocean) it has led to four out of five pairs of Cuckoo-Shrike successfully rearing chicks, compared to just two out of six pairs raising young at a nearby site without control.
Although the population of Réunion Cuckoo-Shrike remained fairly constant at around 120 pairs between the 1970s and the 1990s, it has been declining over the last decade. Currently males outnumber females by almost two to one, and the remaining population is estimated at fewer than 50 pairs and the species is classified as Endangered. It is thought birds once primarily occupied lowland forest, but under the pressures of habitat loss and degradation, forest fires and predation by alien invasives, this species has retreated to a 16 km² patch of mountainous rainforest in the north of the island.
Source: Birdlife International news