Bird Conservation International

The imminent extinction of the Kites Milvus milvus fasciicauda and Milvus m. migrans on the Cape Verde Islands

Sabine  Hille  and Jean-marc  Thiollay 


We investigated the decline and current status of the Black Kite Milvus m. migrans Boddaert 1783 and the endemic and distinct Red Kite (Cape Verde Kite or Cape Verde Red Kite) Milvus milvus fasciicauda Hartert 1914 on the Cape Verde archipelago. In 1996 and 1997, the first census of both kites on the entire archipelago (Hille 1998) revealed that fewer than 10 individuals of each species still existed and that extinction of all kites on Cape Verde was imminent. As expected from this first survey, the tiny island populations of kites further declined and only two individual Red Kites and one Black Kite were found in 1999. Both populations are expected to become extinct very soon. The presumed causes of extinction such as indirect poisoning, lack of food in a changing landscape, and human persecution are discussed.