Our scientists have chosen the top 10 comeback stories in nature. These are the places, ecosystems and species that have been brought back from the brink of disaster. See what made the cut from the last century — and what we hope will be on our list in the next.
The story of the Mauritius Kestrel is probably the most remarkable conservation success story you’ve never heard of.
The Mauritius Kestrel is a small bird of prey that lives on the Mauritius, an island nation off the southeast coast of Africa. In the 1950s and 1960s, the pesticide DDT and predatory invasive species, like cats and mongooses, began killing the birds and their eggs.
By 1974, the population was estimated at four birds, making it the rarest bird in the world.
Two conservationists established a wildlife sanctuary for the bids on a nearby islet, and their captive breeding program helped the kestrel population recover. By the mid-1990s there was a self-sustaining population, and today there are more than 800 mature birds.