The Shelly’s Crimsonwing (Cryptospiza shelleyi) is one of the rarest finches in Africa. It inhabits the same dense Albertine Rift highland forest as the threatened Mountain Gorillas of Uganda, Rwanda and DRC of central Africa.
Today, thanks to the early pioneering work done by Dian Fossey in the late 1960’s and the movie Gorillas in the Mist, more is known about the estimated 680 remaining Mountain Gorillas than is known about the elusive Shelley’s Crimsonwing finch. Both keystone species act as ambassadors for the diminishing tropical forests of the word.
This bird is categorized by Birdlife International in the IUCN Red Data list as Vulnerable (likely population 2 500 to 9 999) but lack of data prohibits a more accurate classification. Extensive field research conducted by the Rare Finch Conservation Group (RFCG), which is made up of a group of highly dedicated finch enthusiasts, suggests that the finch is in dire straights and needs urgent attention.
This DVD shows the remarkable story of how the RFCG, with the support of worldwide donors, is overcoming enormous logistical and financial hurdles to save this bird from probable extinction.
(Appropriate running time: 60 minutes)
By David Dennison
I was asked to review this new DVD produced by Birds of a Feather, South Africa. Adele and I watched the DVD right through and we were both most impressed with the quality of the presentation. We expected to see a DVD just about finches and some finches in equatorial rainforests. Instead we were treated to the most fantastic 60 minutes of multidisciplinary conservation effort that one can imagine.
For instance the first ever photograph of a live Shelly’s finch was taken by staff of the gorilla conservation group in the DRC during a netting survey of the bird species present in that park. Although there are only 680 Mountain Gorillas left in the world there is more known about them than about Africa’s rarest finch. The Institute of Tropical Forest Conservation makes accommodation available for visitors to the area. The unique feature of birding in this area is not only are there many endemic species of birds and a total of 350 species to be seen of which 43 species are finches, it is the only national park in Africa where one can see both Mountain Gorillas and Chimpanzees.
The Bwindi National Park where the search is being conducted thus offers visitors gorilla watching and birding. This park also offers the opportunity to see all four species of seedeaters, a wonderful opportunity for bird watchers with a special interest in finches.
Knowledgeable bird guides and drivers who all speak English are readily available for hire. The bottom line is the more visitors the area has the more chance there is of the survival of the environment and the Bwindi National Park and its rare birds and mammals. This DVD is worth every cent of its purchase price.