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Blue Islands

Blue Islands flies more precious cargo for Durrell

With the support of Blue Islands, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust recently ran a specialist training workshop to help save some of the world's rarest birds.

At the headquarters in Jersey, Durrell gathered together conservationists from around the world to learn the latest techniques in the incubation of bird eggs. Blue Islands played a key role by flying precious cargos of fertile eggs from the UK to Jersey.

14 conservationists from 6 countries gathered at Durrell Conservation Academy, the organisations training base adjacent to Durrell Wildlife Park for the four day workshop in October 2012. Internationally renowned experts Susie Kasielke, Head of Birds at Los Angeles Zoo, led the workshop along with Durrell's specialist bird staff.

When trying to breed highly endangered birds, literally every egg counts - so knowing how to maximise productivity by successfully incubating eggs is critical, and this workshop gave participants the specialist skills to achieve this. Participants learnt all about the biology of egg development and the hatching process, practical aspects of incubating eggs, and how to assist chicks struggling to hatch normally.

The development of bird embryos can be followed by a process called candling, where a bright light is used to illuminate the embryo inside. Participants learnt how to do this and how to repair accidentally damaged or cracked eggs, so that the embryo inside can still develop and successfully hatch - something vital when you are dealing with the worlds' rarest species.

The workshop also covered the vital role that egg incubation skills are playing in conservation projects to save some of the rarest birds - such as the California condor, Madagascar pochard and San Clemente Island loggerhead shrike.

Durrell's Acting Head of Conservation Training, Dr Tim Wright, commented

We are greatly indebted to Blue Islands for their generosity and help in carefully flying in the precious eggs needed for this workshop. It is this kind of hands on practical training workshop that allows Durrell to make a real positive contribution to conservation, through building capacity in the conservation community worldwide.

Since the organisation founder, Gerald Durrell established a training programme in 1978, more than 3,300 conservationists from 135 different countries have been trained in various types of conservation. Now Durrell Conservation trains up to 400 people each year on a wide range of courses, primarily in Jersey, but also in various other locations around the world.

Blue Islands has supported Durrell a number of times over the years - very special passengers in the past have included a young male critically endangered Alaotran Gentle Lemur, which Blue Islands flew from Jersey to the Isle of Man in 2006.

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