Bird Conservation International



The breeding avifauna of Cosmoledo Atoll (Seychelles) with special reference to seabirds: conservation status and international importance


Gérard Rocamora a1a6, Chris J. Feare a2a7, Adrian Skerrett a3, Majella Athanase a4 and Edwina Greig a5
a1 Island Conservation Society, PO Box 775, Mahé, Seychelles
a6 Centre de Recherches sur la Biologie des Populations d'Oiseaux. Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle. 55, rue de Buffon, 75 005 Paris. email: grocamora@hotmail.com
a2 Department of Pure and Applied Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT
a7 Wildwings Bird Management, 2 North View Cottages, Grayswood Common, Haslemere, Surrey GU27 2DN, UK. E-mail: feare-wildings@msn.com
a3 Island Conservation Society, PO Box 775, Mahé´, Seychelles and Seychelles Bird Records Committee, PO Box 336, Seychelles
a4 Ministry of Environment and Transport, BP 445, Mahé, Seychelles
a5 c/o WildWings Bird Management, 2 North View Cottages, Grayswood Common, Haslemere, Surrey GU27 2DN, U.K.

Abstract

Cosmoledo Atoll, in the Aldabra Group, western Indian Ocean, has rarely been visited by scientists. This paper reports the first visit by ornithologists during the south-east monsoon when many seabirds breed. The breeding populations of three species of booby (Sula spp.) and of Sooty Tern Sterna fuscata were censused and all other species of bird seen were recorded. The atoll proved to have globally significant populations of Masked Booby Sula dactylatra of the subspecies melanops, Red-footed Booby S. sula of the subspecies rubripes, and Sooty Tern of the subspecies nubilosa. Cosmoledo also supports populations of landbirds that have forms endemic to the Aldabra group, but whose taxonomy requires examination using molecular techniques. The atoll, although currently uninhabited, suffers the impacts of exotic fauna and flora, including cats and rats, introduced by previous inhabitants. The isolation of Cosmoledo confers some protection, but its value as a centre of biodiversity, and designation as an Important Bird Area by BirdLife International, indicate that formal protection is needed. Political mechanisms for this are suggested, the implementation of which would help to procure funding to enable practical conservation of the atoll's biota.

(Received October 10 2001)
(Revision accepted December 13 2002)