Published online by Cambridge University Press: 24 April 2009
Birds restricted to islands are susceptible to extinction, and burrow or ground-nesting birds are particularly vulnerable to introduced mammalian predators. Human intervention has also played a vital part. Birds have been used as a source of food, and in more recent times the rarer species have suffered from specimen and egg collection. The island of Madeira and its resident species, which include the endemic Zino's petrel or Madeira freira Pterodroma madeira, are no exception. From subfossil evidence, this bird was once abundant. It was first recorded in 1903, and was already limited to the high central mountain massif of Madeira. By the middle of the century it was considered extinct, but a relict population was rediscovered in 1969. By 1985, all known breeding attempts were disrupted by introduced rats, to the extent that no young fledged. In 1986 the Freira Conservation Project was founded with the aim of increasing the population of Zino's petrel, by controlling rats and human interference, the principal perceived threats to the species. This control was extended to cats after the disaster of 1991, in which a cat(s) managed to get onto one of the breeding ledges and kill 10 adult birds. The results of these efforts have been positive and the small colony is making a slow, but steady recovery. To maintain this success, a conservation strategy for the future is suggested.