After 24 years of playing hide-and-seek, the dark tetraca, a small species that lives only in Madagascar, is up its beak again, much to the scientific community’s relief.
The yellow-throated bird was seen twice during an ornithological mission in December inside a remote forest in northeastern Madagascar.
After 40 hours of driving and half a day of walking, the team went to the places where this rare species was last seen in 1999.
There, they discover a forest in disrepair, largely converted to vanilla plantations despite its protected status. But several days later, the bird was seen hopping in the bushes near a rocky river and caught on camera.
France Press agency
“If the dark tetraca prefers areas near rivers, that may explain why they eluded us for so long,” said John Mittermeyer, director of the Extinct Birds Program at the American Bird Conservancy and a member of the team.
“Bird-watching in the rainforest is all about listening to the calls of the birds, so there is a natural tendency to avoid spending time near noisy rivers,” he explained.
Another team discovered another dark tetraca that spends most of its time in dense vegetation near a river, likely hunting for insects and other prey.
“Now that we’ve found the dark tetraca and have a better understanding of its habitat, we can look for it in other areas of Madagascar,” said Lille-Arison Rene de Roland, program manager for Madagascar.
Dusky tetraka (Crossleyia tenebrosa) is one of the ten most wanted extinct bird species, a list jointly managed by Re:wild, American Bird Conservancy and BirdLife International, all partners in the expedition.
More than half of Madagascar’s birds, or about 115 species, are endemic, which means they are not found anywhere else.
More than 40 bird species on the island are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Dark tetraca has not been classified due to lack of data.
The main drivers of biodiversity loss in Madagascar are the destruction of forests to make room for agriculture, habitat degradation, invasive species, climate change, and hunting.
According to previous research, about 40% of the original forest cover of the island was eroded between the 1950s and 2000s.
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