We desperately need more photos of the elusive Shelley’s finch. Can you help ?

22 May
The only known photo of the Shelley's Crimsonwing Finch. Photo courtesy www.gorilla.org

The world’s only known photo of the threatened Shelley’s Crimsonwing Finch. Photo courtesy http://www.gorilla.org

After 8 years of our existence the Rare Finch Conservation Group still knows of only one photograph of the threatened and elusive Shelley’s crimson-wing finch ( Crytospiza shelleyi ). There are supposed to be between 10,000 to 2,500 of these finches. The bird is classified by BirdLife International in the IUCN Red Data list as vulnerable ( A high risk of extinction ), but lack of data prohibits a more accurate classification. The Shelley’s crimson-wing is a finch that inhabits the dense highland rain forests of the Albertine Rift in central Africa. The bird can be found in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the DRC.

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Uganda. Photo taken by Russell Kingston

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, Ruhija, Uganda. Photo taken by Russell Kingston

We would like to ask all birders travelling to central Africa, as well as tour operators that take birders into Africa to encourage their clients, to try and take photos of the species. We have received several reports from bird guides working in the Ruhija area of Uganda that they have seen a pair of them near the swamp in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. The sad reality is that most of the outstanding local bird guides working in the area cannot afford a camera, with the appropriate lenses, to record the sighting. The truth is they are lucky if they can even afford a pair of binoculars. The RFCG currently does not have the funding to conduct another field research study in the area. It is with this scenario in mind that we strongly appeal to all birders ( plus mountain gorilla trekkers visiting the area ) to look out for the bird and to try and photograph the species for the rest of the world to enjoy.

The Rare Finch Conservation Group is registered in South Africa as a non-profit organisation and is dependant on donors and sponsors to carry out its conservation work on finches in the wild. For more info visit http://www.rarefinch.org or write to the secretary at editor@avitalk.co.za



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