Zino's petrel is Europe’s rarest seabird – it nests only on a handful of mountain platforms in the rugged mountains of Madeira island. Once on the brink of extinction – down to a few dozen pairs, this Endangered species had recovered some ground in the last few years due to hard conservation work, led by the Natural Park of Madeira, and supported by SPEA (BirdLife in Portugal).
Last month a massive forest fire has caused a huge blow to the species – on the 13th August a big fire has raged for several hours right at the heart of the central mountainous massif, consuming a unique and very important biodiversity habitat. Unfortunately the fire went through the Zino's Petrel breeding cliffs, where young birds were still in their nesting burrows.
As soon as the soil cooled down, the staff from the Natural Park of Madeira went in to assess damage. Results were shocking: 25 young and 3 adults burnt to death, and only 13 surviving young in their underground chambers.
This will no doubt cause an impact on the overall population, future recruitment, and breeding productivity. Apart from direct mortality and decreased breeding success, the fire has caused a lot of erosion in the area, and many nesting burrows have disappeared completely.
The Natural Park of Madeira and SPEA have now developed an action plan to mitigate the consequences of this devastating natural disaster. All nests with surviving chicks have been reinforced, all dead bodies were removed, and bait stations around the now barren nesting areas established. Burnt bushes and trees were also removed to avoid collisions with returning adult birds.
In the next few months, the Natural Park of Madeira and SPEA will work to maintain the area around the nests free of invasive exotic plants, will cover some areas with an anti-erosion blanket, and will build and put up artificial nests. All this will urgently need to be done before the winter.
For this, the Natural Park of Madeira and SPEA are now seeking for financial help, mostly to pay for extra manpower and to acquire all material.
So please dig deep and donate now.
We urgently need your support.