While Richard Branson works to rebuild his fire-damaged home on Necker Island in the Caribbean, he's also lending a hand to reintroducing native birds that once dominated the landscape.
In a recent blog entry
, the 61-year-old explained how he's working to rebuild populations of scarlet ibis, the flamingo, and the roseate spoonbill. All three have not been seen in the British Virgin Islands for 100-150 years.
"We have had fantastic success with the flamingos, with 70 young ones born this year," he writes. "The scarlet ibis, one of the most beautiful birds in the world, is also doing fantastically — we had our first baby born recently."
"This is the first scarlet ibis born in the British Virgin Islands for over 100 years," he continues. "They are completely different colour to their parents, which I suspect is so they are not so noticeable to predators when they are young. They turn the incredible scarlet colour after a couple of years."
All three species were either hunted or pushed to extinction in the region due to human development and loss of habitat.
So far, Branson's plan has drawn a lot more praise than the lemur relocation idea he proposed — and then shelved — last year. The businessman was going to offer up his 120-acre Moskito Island as a sanctuary for the threatened species, but received flak from some conservation experts
"I do think it's a bad idea ... we have experience over and over and over again that when you transplant organisms from one part of the Earth to another part of the Earth, the results are usually bad," Anne D. Yoder, a lemur expert and director of the Duke Lemur Center in North Carolina, told Reuters.
Other species that Branson is currently working to reintroduce in the Caribbean include the stout iguana, white-cheeked pintail (a type of duck), crested anole (a reptile), and red footed tortoises.