White-faced Storm-petrel by Göran Ekström
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Transparent utfyllnad Bird protection of the Selvagens
A brief history written by Frank Zino
Two Cory's Shearwaters off Selvagem Grande.
Photo: Göran Ekström
Until 1971 the Selvagens were private property and the only income the owners had, was the regular and "rich" harvest of seabirds, mostly Cory's. The slaughter rights were leased for three or six years respectively. There are records from the mid-1800s onwards of the annual cull of Cory's Shearwaters. The cull was between 20-30,000 young birds. The feathers were sold to England for down pillows and the birds salted and sold in Madeira where they were much prized, especially in the fishing communities.
   The last cull took place in 1967, but numbers were down and only 10,000 juveniles were taken. In this same year, Paul Alexander Zino (Alec) bought the culling rights for a period of three years, specifically to protect the birds. He was a friend of the owner, Luiz Rocha Machado, and was granted permission to build a house there. Together with Gunther Maul from the Natural History Museum in Funchal and Christian Jouanin and Francis Roux from the Paris Museum of Natural History, and some of his family, they started studying the bird population on the islands. With the help of the Portuguese Navy and Prof. Santis Junior from the University of Porto the first ringing expedition took place in 1968. In 1970/71 Alec Zino had negotiated with the World Wildlife Fund, that they would purchase the islands off Luiz Rocha Mahado and then hand them over to the Portuguese authorities to run, as well as funding the work on the islands. The Portuguese Government exercised their option to buy the islands and declared them a Reserve in 1971 (The Desertas were purchased from the private owners and declared a reserve the following year, 1972). However, the Government did not warden the islands, which were effectively abandoned, though Alec Zino and family, and the members of the Paris Museum continued to visit the islands and work with the birds.
   In 1974 there was a revolution in Portugal and the Government became very left wing. In 1976 Selvagem Grande was assaulted by fishermen from Madeira who killed every living thing on the island and destroyed Alec Zino's house. Alec Zino managed to take a TV crew from mainland Portugal to film this disaster. They found only four juvenile Cory's Shearwaters, alive on the whole island!!! The resultant film so shocked the public that the Government was forced to pay for some wardening. There being no National Park at the time, this work was organised by Alec Zino. He continued this work until after the formation of the Parque Natural da Madeira in 1986. If it had not been for his work and dedication over the years it is doubtful whether there would be a reserve today. He received various honours from the Portuguese Government for his conservation work. Sadly Alec Zino died in 2004, but lived to see his dream of a properly run Reserve on the islands, now in the able hands of the Parque Natural da Madeira.

By Frank Zino, Madeira

Brief info about Frank Zino
Frank Zino, July 2005.
Photo: Bosse Carlsson
Frank Zino is a practicing General Medical Practitioner (GP) in Madeira. He was part of the original scientific expedition to the Selvagens in 1963, organised by Gerry Maul together with his father Alec Zino. Christian Jouanin and Francis Roux were also members of this expedition. Frank and Alec worked a lot with these two scientists from the Paris Natural History Museum and were converted to ornithology. Over the following years the French visited Madeira regularly, with further expeditions to the Selvagens as well as the Desertas, Porto Santo and Madeira itself.
   Work was carried out on the Pterodromas of Bugio and as a result of this work Alec Zino rediscovered what is now Zino's Petrel (Pterodroma madeira). Frank Zino was present with his father and Gerry Maul when the calls of Pterodroma madeira were first heard at Pico Areeiro in 1969. He always accompanied his father on birding trips until sadly his father's health stopped his field activities.
   In 1986 when all breeding of Pterodroma madeira, was stopped by predation by rats, he started a NGO called the Freira Conservation Project, which managed to get money form ICI Public Health to fund the project, as well as the assistance of Dr. Alan Buckle, one of the world's leading experts on rats and Andy Swash from MAFF. This project counted on the assistance of the Museu Municipal do Funchal and the newly formed Parque Natural da Madeira. More recently he managed to obtain a grant of £100,000 from Fauna and Flora International towards the expropriation of the breeding grounds of Zino's Petrel. This was used as seed money for the successful application by the PNM for a highly successful LIFE project.
   He continues to visit the Selvagens regularly working with Cory's where he has been working with satellite tracking. He also continues to work with Zino's Petrel.

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