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Keywords:

  • reintroduction;
  • harvesting;
  • hand rearing;
  • captive breeding;
  • Foudia

Abstract

In-situ captive rearing of endangered passerines for reintroduction has rarely been used as a conservation tool. Nests of Mauritius fodies threatened with predation by introduced mammalian predators were harvested from the wild, and chicks were reared to independence for release onto an offshore, predator-free island. The daily probability of the survival was higher in captivity than in the wild, and 69 chicks were reared to fledging of which 47 would have been expected to fledge in the wild. Harvesting of nests probably had little impact on the wild population. Captive breeding trials on Mauritius fodies showed that large numbers of individuals could be produced for a release program from a small number of pairs if enough space was provided. Artificial incubation of passerine eggs and rearing of chicks can be used to increase the productivity of endangered taxa. Zoos can play an important role in in-situ conservation programs through provision of avicultural expertise and training of local staff. Zoo Biol 27:255–268, 2008. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.