Friday, 9 September 2011

Island species 'sliding towards extinction'

Large numbers of species on islands throughout the UK Overseas Territories are “sliding towards extinction”, campaigners have warned.

Conservationists say the number of “wonderful” and “fascinating” species disappearing from the islands is “truly frightening”.

They say that the species have evolved in “splendid isolation” on the 14 island groups that form the UK Overseas Territories and are “found nowhere else on the planet”.

Figures from the RSPB show that northern rockhoppers penguins are disappearing from Tristan da Cunha, and Gough Island, in the South Atlantic Ocean at the rate of 100 a day.

Meanwhile, more than 25,000 petrel chicks on Henderson Island, in the Pitcairn Islands, are eaten alive every year.

But local conservationist have already ensured the survival of the Bermuda petrel by successfully translocating 75 chicks onto Nonsuch Island.

In other cases the Cobb's wren has been helped by clearing introduced “predators” on more than 20 of the Falkland Islands.

Establishing the Centre Hills National Park on Montserrat has “given one of the largest frogs in the world, a lizard and an endemic orchid a future”.

The RSPB said that it was possible to address problems with more funds and support.

“There simply won't be a future for many of these species unless we act fast,” a spokesman said.

The charity is calling for donations to help its cause.

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