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Réunion Harrier

Reduce human-related mortality

Which species?

With a population of less than 200 pairs, the Réunion Harrier, also known as the Papangue, is an endemic species in Réunion Island classified as « Endangered » [1]. It is the last remaining raptor that nests in Réunion, in particular in the core zone of the National Park (Roche-Écrite Nature Reserve) and in the buffer zone of the Park. According to the accounts of early explorers, one or two other bird of prey species must have existed on the island, before humans arrived.

Réunion harrier, papangue, Réunion, Yabalex

This harrier, which long ago lived on an island covered with forests, is a specialist in hunting, bird, with wings that are shorter than those of other harriers. With the arrival of the first humans, who cut down the tropical forest to plant crops and establish villages, the Réunion Harrier adapted to consume other types of prey. Its diet consists mainly of rats (two introduced species), birds, rarely shrews and lizards (introduced) and carcasses of various species. The species can reproduce throughout the year, depending on the availability of food resources, but the breeding season usually begins in December. It faces numerous human-related threats in Réunion.

Why ?

In spite of its status of protection species, it is still shot or illegally captured and kept in cages. Non-natural mortality is also linked to collisions with electric cables, since the species flies at a low altitude when hunting. Even if consumption of poisoned rats, as the use of poison by householders to fight against introduced rats, remains underestimated, it is probably the main cause of human-related mortality.

Our actions

A consultation process will be conducted with EDF (French Electricity Company), the Departmental Federation of Pest Control Groups (the departmental federation of pest control groups) and the Chamber of Agriculture to set up risk prevention schemes for the species. Park rangers will also be informed on the conservation challenges for the species, in order to improve their actions. In addition, a system of voluntary patrols will be tested in one area, and then extended to all the relevant sectors of the island, in order to recover, as quickly as possible, injured or poisoned birds during periods of courtship display or when fledglings leave the nest. Protocols for territorial surveillance and coordination between teams and the rescue center will be tested, as well as procedures for releasing birds back into their natural environment after treatment.

Report, involve, raise awareness

A poster campaign will be carried out and a brochure with technical recommendations published and disseminated throughout the island to reinforce and promote results.

[1(UICN, BirdLife International, 2008)

Keywords : Réunion, Roche-Ecrite Nature Reserve, Buffer zone of the National Park, Réunion Harrier