Island conservation humboldt penquin national reserve

Humboldt penguin national reserve map island cosnervation

Choros and Chañaral Islands are two of three islands that make up the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve, situated 600 km (372.8 miles) north of Santiago, Chile.



Why are Choros and Chañaral Islands Important?

  • Once home to over 100,000 pairs of IUCN Endangered Peruvian Diving-petrel (Pelecanoides garnotii)
  • Home to 80% of the world’s Vulnerable Humboldt Penguin population
  • Unique desert islands that host a variety of threatened native Chilean plant species

For millennia, the seabirds and sensitive desert plants thrived together in the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve. Everything changed early in the 20th century when the European rabbit was introduced to Choros and Chañaral Islands. Invasive rabbits stripped bare the herbs and shrubs, occupied diving-petrel nests, and devoured the cactus species that provided shaded nest sites for penguin chicks.

Chañaral Island once supported the world’s largest population of the Peruvian Diving-petrel, but they were extirpated due to invasive species. This left Choros Island as the only significant breeding colony for the diving-petrel within the Reserve. In addition to the many threats these seabird species face at sea, the loss of breeding habitat put these birds at risk of extinction and threatened to compromise a budding eco-tourism industry centered around seabird and marine mammal observation.


In 2013, the Chilean National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), in collaboration with Island Conservation, removed invasive rabbits from Choros Island. 2016, the partners removed invasive rabbits from Chañaral Island.


On Choros Island, fields of seedlings, hillsides covered in the threatened flower Alstroemeria philippii, and Peruvian Diving-petrels seeking out burrows signal a return to ecological health. On Chañaral Island, barren landscapes have been replaced by fields of flowers and 16 native plant species never-before recorded on this island are thriving.


In 2018, the partners declared the removal of invasive rabbits from the Humboldt Penguin National Reserve a success. This achievement makes the Reserve the first protected area within the Chilean Protected Areas Network to be free of invasive vertebrate pest species. The partnership will continue to monitor the island ecosystems for signs of recovery in the coming years.

Choros and Chañaral Support

Native, threatened Chilean desert plant species.

An important Peruvian Diving-petrel population.

Eco-tourism and the fishing communities that depend on healthy island ecosystems.



  • Maddy Pott
    Maddy Pott
    Grants Manager
Maddy Pott
Grants Manager

Maddy received her AB cum laude in biology and Romance languages from Bowdoin College. After graduating, she taught English at an engineering school in Nantes, France.  Maddy spent her summers working seasonal field jobs in remote areas of Mexico, Maine, and the Canadian Maritimes. After deciding to pursue ecology full time, she spent a number of months working in Mauritius to protect the Endangered Pink Pigeon from the threat of invasive species. Maddy’s combined passions for unique species, islands, and foreign languages make her an invaluable component of the Island Conservation team. Maddy loves to get out and observe plants and animals in the wild while camping, hiking, or kayaking. When confined to more urban settings, she enjoys biking, baking, and making a strong cup of tea.

A gift to Island Conservation in your estate plan will build a legacy and assure a future in which island species thrive. By including Island Conservation in your will, your estate may receive significant tax savings. A designated sum or a certain percentage of a residuary estate can be donated or consider making Island Conservation a full or partial beneficiary of your IRA, 401(k) or other qualified retirement plan.  If you choose to provide for Island Conservation in your estate plans, please contact the development manager at or 831-359-4787.

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Gifts of long-term appreciated stock are an easy way to provide crucial support to Island Conservation and increase your giving. Benefits may include: income tax and capital gain tax savings. Consult your financial advisor on the potential benefits.

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The Pension Protection Act of 2006 gives those at least 70½ years of age the opportunity to make tax-free charitable gifts, including the minimum required distribution.

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Donating real estate to Island Conservation may give you a tax deduction on the fair market value of the real estate and help you avoid the capital gains tax you may incur if you were to sell the property.

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Your current/former employer may double or triple your generous contribution to Island Conservation.

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Celebrate special events or the memory of a special person in your life by making an honorary gift. Please make sure to include the honoree’s name when you make your donation.

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