8 Jan 2014

Cooks' Atiu on track to be first mynah-free Pacific island

1:49 pm on 8 January 2014

Atiu in the Cook Islands is on track to be the first Pacific island to eradicate the mynah bird.

The invasive Asian bird species has spread to many countries in the Pacific, through flight, during cyclones and on ships in cargo.

The director of the Cooks Islands natural heritage trust says on Atiu, as on other Pacific islands, the mynah has had a big impact on native bird populations.

But Gerald McCormack says an 80,000 US dollar programme using a combination of poisoning, trapping and shooting has brought numbers down from about 6,000 to 200.

"On Atiu now, for eco-tourism which is what the island is putting itself to be, is an eco-tourism island, when you walk around that island now, and you see something move out of the corner of your eye you look and you're going to see a kingfisher or a lorikeet or a pigeon - all native birds. Whereas before everything that moved was a mynah bird."

Gerald McCormack says Conservation International has funded the programme, which has also had support from Air Rarotonga.