Tahanea Atoll Motus now safe for the Titi!

Island Restoration Project in French Polynesia Officially Declared a Success.

A recent expedition to Tahanea by our colleagues at Simon Fraser University detected no sign of rodents on the three small motu (islets) where rodent removal efforts took place last year.  We can now safely say that the project was successful!

This project was undertaken in partnership with Simon Fraser University, Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie “MANU” (SOP Manu), and representatives of the Faaite Community and we are hopeful that it will help provide the impetus for eventual restoration of the entire atoll complex (1400ha). We are currently working with Simon Fraser University and SOP Manu to assess the feasibility of atoll-wide restoration.

According to Richard Griffiths, IC Project Director, “Numbers of titi (Tuamotu Sandpiper) are still low as a result of the cyclone that passed through the area shortly after the project was implemented, but the population is likely to rebound and, thanks to the removal of rats from Toreauta and Kotuetue, eventually expand.”

Protecting Critical Habitat

In this, our first project in French Polynesia, IC staff collaborated with partners to remove rats from three small motu (islets) in the Raeffsky Islands, a subgroup in the Tuamotu Archipelago, protecting the endemic, Endangered Tuamotu Sandpiper. The Tuamotu Sandpiper is a non-migratory shorebird that, because of invasive rats and feral cats, is restricted to just five uninhabited atolls in French Polynesia. On Tahanea Atoll, suitable breeding habitat for the sandpiper exists, but the population has been restricted to small areas of the atoll because of the presence of Polynesian rats.
Working with local partners including the Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie “MANU”, a Polynesian nongovernmental organization, we removed rats from three small motu totaling 7.1 hectares in area in July 2011. The partners expect that these motu will be quickly recolonized by Tuamotu Sandpiper bolstering this very important population both in size and extent. According to IC Island Restoration Specialist Maddy Pott, “There was a territorial pair on the largest motu as well as a number of non-territorial individuals, observations which indicate that there is a lot of interest in the motu and demonstrates its potential as nesting habitat.” The Tuamotu Sandpiper also is a candidate for translocation to Palmyra Atoll.

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