New lease on life for French Polynesian dove

4:10 pm on 3 August 2015
The critically endangered Polynesian Ground Dove. Known locally as Tutururu

The critically endangered Polynesian Ground Dove. Photo: RNZI Courtesy of Island Conservation

A critically endangered French Polynesian ground-dove known locally as Tutururu has been given a new lease on life in its endemic home, the Tuamotu & Gambier Archipelagos.

Only 150 of the birds remain in the world but safe habitats now available to them have more than doubled thanks to an ambitious conservation effort to eradicate introduced rats from the Tuamotu group.

The director of Island Conservation, Brad Keitt says the project was implemented together with Birdlife International and its local partner SOP Manu after they found that almost all of the remaining ground doves live on a single rat-free atoll.

"There's many other bird species that utilise these islands. An endemic unique shorebird called the Tuamotu Sandpiper that occurs on these islands and is also endangered. A number of seabirds and a host of endemic plants. All of these species are impacted by invasives and by removing them, they should all benefit."

It took three years to plan the operation for these remote islands which lie over 1500km from Tahiti and Brad Keitt says a follow up mission will be conducted in a years time to make sure that all the rats have been eradicated and to check on wildlife populations.