Dr Nicolas Zuël is the Conservation Manager at Ebony Forest in Mauritius. He told us about the role Brinsea incubators and TLC brooders play in their vital conservation work.

‘The Mauritius Olive White-eye is the rarest of the remaining nine endemic land bird species of Mauritius, with fewer than 150 pairs. Without intervention, the outlook for this species is bleak as the population continues to decline rapidly due to predation by introduced mammals such as rats and monkeys, and loss of high quality endemic forest. After nearly two decades of forest restoration activities at Ebony Forest, the Ebony Forest team, in collaboration with the National Parks & conservation Service, are eager to reintroduce threatened fauna such as the Olive White-eye. Predators are controlled across 50 ha. thanks to co-financing from the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.

The Olive White-eye nesting season is currently underway and our conservation team have been busy searching for nests. Once a pair lays eggs, we wait for at least four days before harvesting them. Sadly, sometimes they are predated by rats, monkeys or non-native birds such as the Indian Mynah or Red Whiskered-Bulbul first, which is one of the reasons this species is declining and is Critically Endangered according to IUCN Red List of species.

The harvested eggs are transported to the Gerald Durrell Endemic Wildlife Sanctuary run by the National Park and Conservation Services with whom we are collaborating with on this project. There the eggs are transferred into Brinsea Ovation 28 EX incubators to incubate until they hatch. We use Brinsea incubators because of their ease of use and reliability. Olive White-eye eggs are tiny, around 1 cm, so we need an incubator that can accommodate such fragile and rare eggs, as well as be adapted for other endemic bird species eggs. The ability to adapt the rocking and dissemble and assemble the incubators and brooders easily for disinfection are all a plus.

The incubation takes 14 days and once hatched, chicks are transferred to a Brinsea TLC-40 Advance brooder where they are kept for 10 to 12 more days and fed a diet of crickets, papaya, pinkies, pellets, waxworms, cockroaches, black soldier fly larvae and are given calcium, multivitamins and vitamin B supplements.

 

Mauritius - Olive White-eye eggs in a Brinsea Ovation 28 EX incubator

Olive White-eye eggs in a Brinsea Ovation 28 EX incubator in Mauritius.

Once the chicks fledge and can feed by themselves, they are moved to an outdoor enclosure in an aviary to sun up and start to learn to fly. A group of 3 to 5 competent flyers will then be moved to the release site at Ebony Forest and placed in a release aviary to acclimatise to their new surroundings. After 15 days, or when the birds are around 1 to 1.5 month old, the doors of the release aviaries are opened and they are free to leave. Food is always provided in the aviaries, so the birds can come anytime to feed.

This is the first year of the project which has been co-financed by Ebony Forest, the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund and the National Geographic Society. We aim to raise between 10 to 20 chicks every year for the next 3 years to establish a Olive White-eye population at Ebony Forest and to reduce the extinction risk to the species.’

 

Photos by Elisa Laverdant

Blog post photo by Jacques de Speville

#ebonyforestchamarel

 

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