The critically endangered Abbott’s Booby is one of the most evolutionary distinct birds and the rarest of all boobies. It has disappeared from all its other breeding sites and now calls Christmas Island its last chance of hope.
Abbott's Bobby are the only booby species to nest high in trees and therefore require an intact canopy to raise their young. Unfortunately, the rainforests these birds rely on are under threat from an exploratory mining lease currently under consideration by the Federal Government. These demands are of high commercial interest as the demand for palm oil, and therefore, fertilizer grows.
Phosphate mining requires the removal of forest cover and topsoil which makes regeneration almost impossible. . Regeneration work would require soil to be replaced which would need to be shipped from the mainland. The soil could contain invasive species or contaminants. Mining can also facilitate the effects of invasive species. Christmas Islands' invasive species, including black rats, cats, yellow crazy ants, wolf snakes and an invasive vine, directly prey on endemic species as well as disrupting the forest structure.
BirdLife is calling on the Australian Government to commit to an end of mining on Christmas Island and to continue to improve the control of invasive species. There is also an urgent need for further research on threatened taxa to facilitate direct conservation actions.
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Photo credit: Ian Montgomery, William Bacon & Chris Tate