Update from the Field: Expedition to save Critically Endangered Polynesian Ground-dove on track to be a success


The Critically Endangered Polynesian Ground-dove is one of the world’s rarest birds. It is found only in French Polynesia. BirdLife International estimates there are fewer than 100 remaining on the entire planet (some local experts say fewer than 50).

Invasive rats, introduced to islands in French Polynesia decades ago, are pushing the ground-dove, as well as other native species such as the Endangered Tuamotu Sandpiper, to extinction. Without intervention, we will lose many of French Polynesia’s extraordinary plants and animals forever.

So, what are we doing to stop this? We’re calling on you – our supporters, partners, and friends – to take action and join us on our journey to help protect French Polynesia’s species by removing invasive rats. Many of you stepped forward and, because of your support, are the reason this project is happening. Thank you!

Right now, Island Conservation Project Director, Richard Griffiths is on French Polynesia’s Acteon and Gambier archipelagos with a team of expert island restoration specialists led by BirdLife International to save the ground-dove and sandpiper. Assisted by Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie (SOP) Manu, BirdLife’s Partner in French Polynesia, the team is removing damaging invasive species from Vahanga and five other islands in French Polynesia over the next few weeks.

We are excited to share with you Richard’s latest email from the field and will continue to bring you updates as the project progresses.

From June 15, 2015:

Ia ora na!

The Acteon and Gambier restoration project continues to progress as planned. Invasive species removal activities went smoothly on Vahanga and Tenarunga. We anticipated that each site would take two days, but instead managed to complete them both in the time allotted for one, so we are now a day ahead of schedule! Not surprisingly the team was pretty worn out after nearly five days straight of work and ready for a break. We now need to wait for 12 days until we can start again on Temoe.

But, before you conjure the image of us lying on a beach in the tropical sun sipping Tahiti drinks over the next week or two, unfortunately it’s not going to happen. There is work to be done. Maddy is spearheading the monitoring effort on Vahanga and the control of Lantana (an incipient weed). Jason, Tommy, and David will be on Tenarunga completing all of the necessary operational monitoring. I will be in the Gambier Islets helping remove any remaining invasive predators. Not a dull moment to be had.

Other news includes the discovery of a new plant for French Polynesia on Motu Teiku – the fourth and only rat-free site within the Gambier islets. Jean Francois is the botanist on our team. He is a special character as many botanists are, obsessed with plants and never stops moving.

One male and one female Tutururu and two Tuamotu Sandpipers were transferred from Vahanga to Tenararo where they will be monitored closely.

Best regards,

There is still work to be done and we can’t do it without you. You can join our crusade to save the Critically Endangered Polynesian Ground-dove and Endangered Tuamotu Sandpiper by pitching in here. Birdlife International is also providing regular project updates, you can follow along here.

Thank you for your support!

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 at http://kriticalmass.com/p/savepacificbirds


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