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July 29, 2013
The Ministry of the Environment and the Galapagos National Park, in coordination with other institutions, is bringing the issue of bird mortalities along Galapagos roadways to the forefront as part of an effort to raise community awareness of this serious problem. The campaign is called, “I want to continue to fly.”
Around thirty people participated in a video as part of the campaign to reduce the increasing mortality of birds in Galapagos. Vehicular traffic at high speed along the main roadways has caused the death of hundreds of birds in Santa Cruz, Isabela, and San Cristóbal. In Santa Cruz, the bodies of yellow warblers (Dendroica petechia), finches (Camarhynchus parvulus), Mockingbirds (Nesomimus parvulus) and others are found along the road between Puerto Ayora at the south end of the island and the Itabaca Canal at the north end. In San Cristóbal, the same situation is present on the road to El Progreso in the highlands and on the island of Isabela on the road to Santo Tomás.
Children, adults, local institutions, bloggers, Galapagos artists and local institutions joined the Galapagos National Park Directorate to respond to this growing environmental challenge. In only two days, reports showed that 400 birds were killed on the road between Puerto Ayora and the Itabaca Canal on Santa Cruz Island.
The goal of the campaign is to bring awareness to the entire community about this issue and, in particular, to ensure that drivers exercise caution. Passengers in taxis are also asked to remind drivers not to exceed the speed limit so as to avoid killing these native bird species.
Students from the ecology club Mola Mola, part of the Ecology Project International (EPI), are working with park rangers to monitor and clean the roadway. During a clean-up project along 40 kilometers of road, the group collected bodies of birds found in the middle of the road and along the ditches. Among the birds found were remains of barn owls (Tyto alba), which indicated that collisions occur at different times of the day and night. Regular monitoring is part of the campaign.
The campaign also features several local residents in a video with the following messages:
“The voice of the best singer in Galapagos will no longer be heard.”
“They are part of our natural heritage. Please reduce your speed.”
In the campaign’s next phase, messages will be placed on public vehicles to urge drivers to keep to a maximum of 70 kilometers per hour.
Since last April’s launch of “I want to continue flying,” the campaign has reached out to 163 drivers of vehicles, two ground transportation cooperatives, and public and private institutions, on the care and protection of these endangered birds. The ultimate goal is to create a balance between the residents of Galapagos and their special ecosystem, which is a principal tourist attraction that generates resources for Galapagos residents.