• photo: Steve Cranwell

    French Polynesia and Fiji: Saving imperilled birds by eradicating invasive, exotic fauna

  • photo: Fred JACQ

    French Polynesia and Fiji: Saving imperilled birds by eradicating invasive, exotic fauna

  • photo: Fred JACQ

    French Polynesia and Fiji: Saving imperilled birds by eradicating invasive, exotic fauna

  • photo: Fred JACQ

    French Polynesia and Fiji: Saving imperilled birds by eradicating invasive, exotic fauna

  • photo: Fred JACQ

    French Polynesia and Fiji: Saving imperilled birds by eradicating invasive, exotic fauna

  • photo: Steve Cranwell

    French Polynesia and Fiji: Saving imperilled birds by eradicating invasive, exotic fauna

In Brief

Conservation Value:

Due to the impacts of invasive species, 35 species of birds are endangered in French Polynesia. This project aims to eradicate invasive species at three disparate sites.  If successful, this will stop the decline of many endemic birds and other local species, and ultimately to restore biodiversity to the natural ecosystems on the three islands.

Threats:

Historically the greatest threat to biodiversity on oceanic islands, particularly in the South Pacific, has been the arrival of species not native to these islands. For endemic birds, which tend have small populations, introduced mammals, birds, and herpetofauna prey on them, destroy their habitats, or out-compete them for nesting cavities or food resources. This project works to control or eradicate some targeted invasives including the common myna and the cane toad that only just arrived on Rotuma in Fiji in the past two years, before they take hold and spread; introduced rats and cats on seven islands in the Marquesas; and rats and goats on Rapa in southern French Polynesia.  See details on invasive species impacts in this project's three sites in the "In More Depth" section below.

Actions & Results:

The following actions started in 2019 and work is proceeding with some timeline seetbacks that resutled from Covid restrictions.  In French Polynesia and Fiji, our project with BirdLife International and Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie in remote islands in the South Pacific aims to eradicate invasive species that can quickly drive endemic species of birds to extinction. The invasive species targeted include rats, feral goats, common mynas, and cane toads. In Rotuma, mynas have been contained and are down to a very few birds, while all of Rapa’s islets are now goat-free and measures continue to control rats. Rats are a serious problem on most of the world’s islands, having arrived by ships since man began exploring in canoes. They are the single largest threat to seabirds.

  • Capture and eradicate an estimated 10+ pairs of common myna birds and complete a cane toad survey and assessment on Rotuma Island, Fiji (Delayed to November 2021.)
  • Remove cats and rats (with rodenticide) in the Marquesas, while establishing a captive population of the Marquesas ground dove and Marquesas monarch.  
  • Goat removal program in Rapa island was delayed due to Covid restricdtion but has since been completed on two of the three islands targeted to save the Rapa shearwater from extinction.  

Location:

Three South Pacific islands:  Moho tani in the Marquesas of French Polynesia, Rapa is in southern French Polynesia, and Rotuma in Fiji.

Goal:

To avert the extinction of endangered, endemic birds on islands in the Pacific and secure their future.

Project Field Partner:

Birdlife International Pacific and the Société d'Ornithologie de Polynésie

Cost:

Cumulative cost to ICFC (2019-2022): CA$113,993

Size of Area Involved:

Rotuma Island (Fiji), 4,300 ha; Mohotani Island (French Polynesia), 1,500 ha; Rapa iti Island, 4,000 ha (French Polynesia).

Gallery

Click to enlarge an image

Puffinus myrtae (photo: Fred Jacq)
Mohotani (Fred Jacq)
Trail trap for rats (photo: Fred Jacq)
Fregetta grallaria titan, Korue, Rapa (Fred Jacq)
Pterodroma alba flight (Fred Jacq)
(photo: Fred Jacq)
Mohotani (photo: Fred Jacq)
Fregetta grallaria titan, Korue, Rapa (Fred Jacq)
Rapa iti motu (photo: Fred Jacq)

In More Depth...

Further info on threats from invasive species

The myna competes with of a number of native birds including the striking red and black Rotuman myzomela - a species found only on Rotuma.  The aggressive myna dominates competition for food and nest sites and may prey on myzomela eggs and hatchlings. With little refuge from myna, the myzomela population will inevitably decline once the myna reaches the densities typical of other tropical islands.  

In the Marquesas of French Polynesia several species of birds are threatened with possible extinction.  Among those are the Phoenix petrel, white-throated storm petrel, Marquesas monarch, and Marquesas ground dove and one Vulnerable species (bristle-thighed curlew) and other endemic plants and wildlife. 

In Rapa, seabirds dominate the avian fauna with eleven species including the endemic and Critically Endangered Rapa shearwater (Puffinus myrtae) and two species of storm petrel; the Endangered Polynesian storm petrel (Nesofregetta fuliginosa) and an endemic subspecies of white-bellied storm petrel (Fregetta grallaria titan). The endemic Rapa fruit dove (Ptilinopus huttoni) is also Critically Endangered. All of these iconic birds are threatened with extinction primarily due to introduced rats, feral cats and ungulates (goats, cattle and horses). 

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