Life + PETRELS project – Benefits



A conservation emergency

The Mascarene Petrel is one of the 15 most endangered species in the world! This species of seabird is classified critically endangered on the IUCN Redlist. Since 1834, only 52 individuals have been identified in Reunion Island. We do not know where this species nests or where its burrows are located.

Today we estimate that the population is between 10 and 50 breeding pairs. The LIFE + Petrels program is designed to respond to this emergency. In 5 years it will surely be too late to act.

Protecting our cultural heritage: The Mascarene Petrel, a legend, a mythical species!

The Mascarene Petrel is the stuff of local legends, (zistoire grandmère Kal). Our cultural and natural heritage is at stake and we seek to protect it and preserve it, sustainably!

Improve our environment

1/ By significantly reducing predator numbers (cats & rats) :

The introduction of cats into the upland regions of the island was originally intended to eliminate rats. With time, the rats reproduced much faster than cats, making rat populations very difficult to control. The idea was a failure.

It is also scientifically proven that cats carry and transmit human diseases.

The presence of rats in the environment poses health dangers to us, e.g. toxoplasmosis, leptospirosis.

Thus, it is necessary for our own sakes to reduce rat numbers and eliminate, as far as possible, the number of rats on our island.

2/Reducing waste in our environment :

Waste awareness and behavioural change among the local population will create a much healthier and safer environment and will also reduce the numbers of cats and rats feeding on this waste.

3/By improving the economy of Reunion Island and protecting its people – this is also a priority !

One way to save petrels is to reduce light pollution. The SEOR’s “Nuits sans lumières” initiative tackles light pollution. Apart from petrels, light pollution also has harmful effects on human health causing sleep disorders, obesity, etc.

Protecting this species is our responsibility

Europe has acknowledged this emergency and responded positively to our request for financial assistance for a LIFE program in Reunion. LIFE is an acronym for “Financial Instrument” awarded by Europe to innovative projects and urgent environmental issues. The LIFE + Petrels project has been awarded €3.2 million for five years to protect and conserve these endemic species. We hope that local actors will recognise the urgency of our plight to help us go forward in the best conditions.

The Mascarene Petrel is one of the 15 most endangered species in the world.

Innovations developed for this project include miniaturized technologies and training dogs to search for birds, and will help save other endangered species around the world. The LIFE team will travel to other countries including New Zealand and Hawaii where techniques will be swapped. Experts will also visit our island.

From an individualistic point of view, if a species disappears it will have no direct impact on our life or on our health or our environment.

However, if all species disappear over time and the human race did nothing about it, we would see natural and climatic disturbances in the future.

Since his arrival on the island, man has introduced many species and caused many “disruptions” that have changed the natural balance that existed previously on the island, causing major ecological changes and provoking the disappearance of many species.

The objective of preserving biodiversity is simply to preserve life on Earth but also to ensure that future generations continue to benefit from ecosystems and wildlife: They produce oxygen, purify water, produce biomass to feed domestic, fished and hunted animals, they pollinate crops. The list goes on.

If we do not recognise the importance of protecting this species (one of the rarest in the world), we will not act to save other endangered species. It is the genetic diversity of species which helps them adapt to climate and economic changes – this ensures the survival of the natural world.

The greater the number of species and their genetic diversity, the greater the chances that some will be able to adapt to new conditions in the future. For example, in the 70s, a virus devastated the rice fields of India and Indonesia. The International Institute of rice tested more than 6,000 varieties of rice before finding a variety resistant to this disease.

Thus, biodiversity provides many benefits that are difficult and costly to replace.

Moreover, eliminating the petrel’s threats will also indirectly preserve many other species of fauna and flora in Reunion. Reducing rat numbers will help safeguard other bird species.

Because species are unique, irreplaceable and interdependent