island conservation

Update from the Field: Effort to save two of the world’s rarest birds may be nearing completion!

By: Heath Packard

As I write this introduction, our field teams are making their way back to their home offices, phones, emails, and internet. We will be debriefing them soon and hope that the final reports allow us all to announce the operation a success…but only time will tell.

In the meantime, here’s Island Conservation Project Director, Richard Griffiths most recent dispatch. You can also read Richard’s first and second update from the field.

Richard reports via Satallite COMMs Link – June 30, 2015: 

Ia ora na

Just a quick update as we are just passing through Mangareva once again. The second phase of the operation on Temoe and the Gambier Islets now complete. All went well. We have been tremendously lucky with the weather as the entire week prior to arriving on Temoe would have been unsuitable for this work.

David Will and Tony the pilot will travel to Vahanga today, while Steve, Tommy and I will stay finish the job on Makaroa. No sign of invasive mammals left on Manui since the 25th which is encouraging but we will be continuing to monitor the situation before we leave. Maddy Pott will return with the helicopter from Vahanga to assist with this.

The second phase on Vahanga will start on the 2nd and we hope to depart on the Shark (a ketch). If we survive, I will send you an update from Tureia enroute back to Tahiti.

Best regards

Richard reports via Satellite COMMs Link – July 6, 2015: 

Ia ora na

Since my last update and the completion of activities on Temoe and the Gambier Islets we endured some wet conditions on Manui and Makaroa and an enforced day off in Rikitea because poor flying conditions prevented us from reaching Vahanga. Luckily the weather cleared and we got through on July 3rd and completed the effort on Vahanga in what was a very big day for everyone. I don’t know why I am saying that because every day on this project has been a big one for the entire team.

The following day we transferred equipment and supplies from Vahanga to Tenarunga for collection by the Nuku Hau and knocked out nearly all of the baiting on Tenarunga. Filled some gaps the following day and consolidated the equipment and gear that will return to Tahiti and the US before departing by helicopter for Tureia. The plan had been for us to sail to Tureia on board the Shark, but it failed to show. Apparently the skipper had been frightened off by a forecast of 6m swells that have yet to eventuate.

In the last few days of the project more Polynesian Ground-doves were sighted on Vahanga and Tenarunga so the chances of finding established populations in 12 months are high. Titi were also still in attendance on Vahanga at the project’s conclusion, another great sign of things to come.

Looking forward to catching up with you albeit remotely in the near future.

Best regards

P.S. It was Tommy’s birthday yesterday which we celebrated with the Tureia community. He is currently sleeping off the event.

About this project:
BirdLife International, with SOP Manu (BirdLife Partner in French Polynesia) and Island Conservation, is leading an extensive island restoration operation in a remote area of French Polynesia to save Critically Endangered birds species and restore the delicate ecological balance. Our ambitious project is restoring the Acteon & Gambier archipelagos to their former glory, safe and ready for the reintroduction of Tuamotu Sandpiper and Polynesian Ground-dove, and benefiting many other wildlife. By sharing transport, equipment and expertise, we’ve significantly reduced the cost of restoring all six islands that are threatened, but is nonetheless our biggest project of the decade.

Additional technical assistance has come from the Pacific Invasives Intiative and the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

This project has received support from many international and national organisations with significant funding from the European Union, the British Birdwatching Fair, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund; sponsorships from Bell Laboratories and T-Gear Trust Canada; and assistance from the Government of French Polynesia and many individual people around the world.

But crucially we still need your help! Please support us today!

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Midway Atoll conservation




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