Conservation translocation planning for Sihek

Sihek were endemic to the island of Guam, a U.S. Territory in the Western Pacific. However, the accidental introduction of brown tree snakes to Guam in the 1940’s, followed by the snake population’s expansion during the next 40 years, resulted in the extirpation of Sihek along with most of Guam’s other forest birds. The last remaining wild Sihek were taken into captivity between 1984 and 1986, and Sihek were extinct in the wild by 1988. Sihek have subsequently been maintained in a captive population in zoos in the US mainland and in Guam. The captive population has increased in size over the last 10 years and can now support releases. 

Close up photo a golden brown bird with white belly and black wings, perched on a branch, looking into the camera

There is now a need to develop a conservation translocation plan to re-establish a wild Sihek population. This plan will consider the method of release, additional methods to support captive bred individuals in their transition to living in the wild, and evaluation of the environmental impact risks the Sihek pose when released. The plan will be developed with full stakeholder engagement. 

Why we are there

ZSL’s Institute of Zoology (IoZ), along with partner organizations and project stakeholders, is working to develop a strategy to release Sihek back into the wild and establish a viable wild population. Staff from IOZ, along with other members of the IUCN’s Conservation Translocation Specialist Group, will provide expertise in conservation translocation planning and guide the Sihek working group through a structured process to develop an optimal translocation strategy.

Photo of two Sihek birds sat on a branch

The Sihek population re-establishment programme is supported by the Guam Department of Agriculture’s Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources (DAWR), the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s Guam Kingfisher Species Survival Plan participating institutions.

Our work to develop a conservation translocation plan for Sihek will not only be vital to ensuring the long-term survival of the species, but will also provide insights into conservation translocation strategies for other highly threatened species.

Impact

  • The development of an effective conservation translocation strategy to re-establish a wild Sihek population.
  • Releases of Sihek into the wild.
  • A viable wild population of Sihek.
  • A long-term species recovery programme, with continued monitoring of the established wild Sihek population and the release-site ecosystem.

 

Project Information

Key Species

Sihek (Guam Kingfisher)

People Involved

Dr Amanda Trask

Dr John Ewen

Dr Stefano Canessa

Partners & Sponsors

Partners: Guam Department of Agriculture Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources (DAWR); US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS); American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s Guam Kingfisher Species Survival Plan participating institutions; Calgary Zoo; IUCN Conservation Translocation Specialist Group

Sponsors: Guam Department of Agriculture Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources (DAWR); US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)