Considered among the most endangered seabirds in the Caribbean region, the Black-capped Petrel seabird population is estimated at only 2,000 nesting pairs. Spending most of their lives at sea, they return to land to nest on only one known island, which is Hispaniola. They fly in at night, making an eerie sound that earned them the local nickname Diablotin, or Little Devil. These small black and white seabirds lay a single egg in a rocky crevice high in the mountains and they are incredibly vulnerable. Threatened by habitat destruction and hunting by introduced predators such as cats, rats and mongooses, the fate of the petrel is uncertain. If not for the significant efforts of EPIC’s team, the Haitian and Dominican people, and our partners from around the world, this beautiful and unique bird may join the list of extinct species.
EPIC’s Black-capped Petrel conservation journey started in 2012 when they joined an expedition to find petrel flyways and nest sites on Hispaniola. When a collaborating team of scientists located petrel nesting sites in Haiti, EPIC worked alongside them to find ways to conserve the nesting colony. Near the nesting sites, the scientists observed people living nearby. These human communities were fighting to feed their families and survive, much like the Petrel. The team immediately recognized that the only way to protect the Petrel was to improve the lives of the people, and an innovative conservation strategy was launched. EPIC built a coalition of conservation groups who continue to work hard to promote community actions led by Haitians including scientific research and monitoring, education for adults, children and the community, advocacy about Petrel protections, and sustainable stewardship farming.
This comprehensive conservation strategy ensures long-term sustainability for the people of Haiti while helping to bring the endangered Black-capped Petrel back from the brink of extinction.