06 July 2009

Invasive House Crow Eradicated from Socotra Island

The House Crow Corvus splendens has been successfully removed from the island of Socotra, after ten years of work by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Socotra Archipelago Conservation and Development Programme (SCDP).

"Eradication of the House Crow from Socotra has removed the risk posed to our native fauna", said Nadim Taleb - the National coordinator for the GEF, Governance and Biodiversity Mainstreaming Project.

House Crow accidentally arrived on Socotra via boat in the latter 1990s, and built up a breeding population of over ten pairs, posing a threat to native biodiversity of the island, designated a world natural heritage site in July 2008.

"The numbers of crows rose to 28 but a count in February 2004 found only 14, all in the capital, Hadibu," according to Richard Porter. Repeated attempts to trap the crows failed, so there was too much other food available.

An alternate to control and reduce the specie's population was successful.

Children were "paid YR1000 for each young crow they find. Eggs are not taken but left in the nest until they hatch and then the young collected," according to a published report by Porter. By 2004, "over 153 young" had been destroyed. "In addition YR2000 is paid for an adult crow, which encourages boys to kill them with catapults."

The nests containing young were taken to the Socotra Archipelago Conservation and Development Programme, according to Birdlife International. "The last birds were killed by a marksman this spring," according to Birdlife International.

"The Invasive Species Control Group freed Socotra from the invasive House Crow", said Omar Al Saghier, National Coordinator for GEF-Small Grant programme. The work was undertaken by the Invasive Species Control Group, the EPA and SADP using GEF-Small Grant programme funds.

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