It’s sad, but true …. and where are we now five years later?

3 Mar

A pair of Shelley's crimsonwing skins . Photo taken by Lorainne Ralph . Skins courtesy Durban Museum South Africa

According to Birdlife International’s IUCN Red Data List the Shelley’s crimsonwing finch is classified as Vulnerable . It is estimated that there are between 2,500 and 10,000 of these finches left in the world . The Shelley’s crimsonwing finch inhabits the dense highland rain forests of the Albertine Rift in central Africa . Birdlife Internationals conservation Target : Investigate declines or fluctuations in population, to assess threats. Survey extent of habitat

It is difficult to believe that the above photograph taken 5 years ago by Lorainne Ralph, skins courtesy of the Durban Museum in South Africa, is still to this day the only known photograph in the world of a pair of Shelley’s Crimsonwing finches . Today we now also have two known photographs of two seperate cock birds ( See 30 Jan Blog post )

Shelley's crimsonwing skin - hen bird

The photograph on the left , also taken by Lorainne Ralph and skin courtesy of the Durban Museum in South Africa, is currently the world’s only known photographic reference of a Shelley’s crimsonwing hen bird.

The Rare Finch Conservation Group ( RFCG ) has already spent hundreds upon hundreds of hours in the field searching for what has now become one of Africa’s rarest finches . It is the firm belief of the RFCG that this particular finch, is in dire straights and that it needs urgent attention . Often the loss of a certain keystone bird species serves as an early indicator to more dramatic and pressing conservation issues in a particular area.

IS THE RARITY OF THIS BIRD NOW TELLING US SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT AND WHY HAS IT BECOME SO RARE ?

Eric, manager at Asyuant lodge, Ruhija. Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. SW Uganda. Visual courtesy : Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation

RFCG educational posters have been put up in many of the areas where the Shelley’s crimsonwing has porportedly been seen in the past, but sadly very few confirmed sightings of the bird have so far been reported. The good news however is that a sighting of a pair of Shelley’s crimsonwing finches was reported in August 2010 in the Ruhija area in SW Uganda ( See 23 Nov 2010 Blog )

If you would like to support the RFCG with its pioneering conservation work then please contact editor@avitalk.co.za . The Rare Finch Conservation Group is registered as a non-profit organisation and is totally dependant on sponsorships and donations for its future survival

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