The Plight of the Mangrove Finch
Hidden in two small mangrove forests on the edge of one of the Galapagos Islands live less than 100 mangrove finches; the entire world population of this species. These little brown birds, small enough to sit in the palm of your hand, are mysterious creatures. Much remains to be learnt about their behaviour, breeding patterns and even diet. What we do know, however, is that they are on the brink of extinction.
These critically endangered finches, the rarest birds in Galapagos, face threats from many sources. Introduced animals prey upon them, habitat destruction destroys their surroundings, and a parasitic fly, Philornis downsi, kills baby finches in horrifying numbers.
However, we can stop their impending extinction if we act now.
Since 2006, a project has been underway to help us understand more about the life of mangrove finches and the threats they face. 2014 saw the start of an exciting new phase in the project which resulted in the team successfully raising 15 mangrove finch chicks in captivity and releasing them back into the mangroves. Given that only six chicks fledged in the wild, this is a hugely significant boost to the population. In 2015 we have been able to raise 8 more new chicks.
But, as lead project scientist Francesca Cunninghame says: "Twice is not enough; this represents the first step. In order to safeguard the future of the mangrove finch head starting must be repeated over several seasons."
This is why the Galapagos Conservation Trust (GCT) has launched the Mangrove Finch Appeal. The appeal has received fantastic support so far, raising enough to ensure that the second field season of the project can go ahead. But the fight to save this species is far from over.
This is where you can help.
By donating to the Mangrove Finch Appeal, you will be directly contributing to the research which can save this species from extinction and increase our knowledge about how to combat this lethal insect. To learn more about the project, click here.
Image ©Michael Dvorak