Birds on the brink - 40 years of conservation in Mauritius
Dr Anthony Cheke
7.45pm Exeter Hall Kidlington OX5 1AB
In 1973-5 Anthony led a small expedition promoted by the BOU to study of the endemic birds of the Mascarene Islands – Mauritius, Reunion and Rodrigues islands in the southern Indian Ocean east of Madagascar. When first discovered by Europeans in the 16th century these islands were uninhabited and peopled by giant tortoises, lizards, fruit-bats and flightless birds, including the iconic Dodo. The biggest and best birds soon succumbed to invasive predators and hunting, but there are survivors which were then (1973) on the brink of extinction. In the years since these islands have become the focus of intensive study and ecological rescue work, and the scene of several unexpected discoveries. The full story would take all day, but Anthony will give us an insight into how what started as a simple ecological study has grown into a multidisciplinary international science project.