New lease on life for French Polynesian dove
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.
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 but the number of safe habitats for them has more than doubled thanks to an ambitious conservation effort to eradicate introduced rat species from the Tuamotu group.
The Director of Island Conservation Brad Keitt, told Koroi Hawkins the project was implemented after they found that almost all remaining ground doves live on a single rat-free atoll.
BRAD KEITT: This was quite a challenging project, as you can imagine, it was many hundreds of miles away from the nearest international airport in Tahiti, we had to ship numerous different supplies, we had to fly a helicopter from Tahiti over open ocean, the project involved removing invasive species from more than six islands. Yeah, it was very complex and was one of the most challenging projects that we and our partners have been involved in.
KOROI HAWKINS: And is it over now? Is it complete?
BK: Well the implementation phase is complete so there was years of planning that went into the project working with the local communities to understand their desires and wishes and see if they support and wanted to see this work happen. Then, during the months of June and July this year the expedition went forth and that was the implementation, so we carried out the plans that we hope will lead to the permanent removal of the invasive species that are threatening those islands. We'll return in a year to confirm whether those rats are gone from the island.
KH: Now you've saved one bird in one set of islands in the Pacific, are there more out there that need help?
BK: Absolutely. The island species are at great risk of extinction. Over 90 percent of bird, reptile and mammal extinctions in the last 500 years have been island species, and the vast majority of those have been a result of invasive species being introduced to those islands. New Zealand is a leader in developing the technology to remove invasives from islands, and that's in part due to efforts to save Kiwi and other endangered species to New Zealand and that technology and effort is growing globally as there's been many hundreds of islands restored around the world by removing invasives, yet there's much more to be done and working with partners like Bird-life International and their local partners in French Polynesia and elsewhere we hope to be able to achieve this in the long term.
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