This species is restricted to one
small island location. It is predicted to undergo a rapid decline of a
magnitude greater than 80% in 12 years (three generations), due to the
introduction and recent spread of a species of ant. It has therefore
been upgraded to Critical.
About one third of the species's
preferred plateau forest was cleared for phosphate mining before
clearance ceased in 1987. This loss has been partly offset by the
introduction of M. calabura, which flourishes on many former
mine fields and other disturbed areas, and provides a rich food source
for much of the year. Illegal hunting continued after prohibition in
1977, but is now less prevalent. The failure of the introduction to
has been attributed to hunting and/or lack of suitable
food-trees. The most serious threat is the rapid spread of the
introduced yellow crazy ant Anoplolepis gracilipes. This ant is
likely to prey directly on nestlings, and may also alter the island
ecology as it kills red crab Gecaroidea natalis, the dominant
life-form, and farms scale insects which damage the trees.
A national park was established in
1980, and has since been extended. Contingency plans are being developed
to establish a captive population on mainland
. A control programme for A. gracilipes has been
*Refine techniques for the control
of A. gracilipes. *Control the abundance and spread of A. gracilipes.
*Establish a captive population of D. whartoni with the aim
of reintroduction once control has been achieved.
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