The eco-friendly Virgin tycoon has made headlines with his latest attempt at conservation on his private isles: reintroducing a fiery red ibis to the BVI.
Some wealthy moguls with their own private islands simply use them for rest, relaxation, and epic parties – in the case of Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, however, his isles in the BVI have become sanctuaries for rare animal species. The famous tycoon caused a stir last year (link) when he introduced lemurs from Madagascar to his pristine Moskito Island in the British Virgin Islands, and now it appears that he’s adding some flamboyant colour to his home away from home on his renowned Necker Island eco-resort.
On June 15th, the social media-savvy tycoon announced the hatching on Necker of a Scarlet Ibis. A gorgeous tropical bird with a long bill and flaming plumage, he said that it was “the first Scarlet Ibis born in the British Virgin Islands for over 100 years.” Now found mainly in the northern reaches of South America and sprinkled throughout the Caribbean, Central America and Florida, the protected Ibis was lost to many of its traditional homes, and Sir Richard is making a valiant effort to bring the fiery wader back to the BVI.
According to his blog, Sir Richard regards the Scarlet Ibis as “one of the most beautiful birds in the world,” and with its distinctive red-orange feathers with a hint of pink, aside from a bit of black on the wingtips, it’s hard to argue that point. Much like with Flamingos, the brilliant hue comes from the volumes of crustaceans ingested by the birds; babies of the species, like those just born on Necker, have a mottled brown and white coat, which gradually shifts to scarlet during years of feasting on shrimp. In captivity, some zookeepers will actually feed the birds beets to maintain their color!
In addition to the Scarlet Ibis, he is also attempting to reintroduce to the BVI other beautiful bird species – all in bright, rosy hues – like the Flamingo and Roseate Spoonbill. In the case of Sir Richard’s Flamingos, he has had astonishing success, with, according to his blog, more than 70 born so far on the island. “We hope in time to have the same success with the Scarlet Ibis as we have had with the Flamingos,” he wrote proudly, “so the British Virgin Islands as a whole can enjoy the beauty of these birds.”
Read more about Sir Richard’s menagerie on his blog: Link