Sunday, 2 August 2015

Island Conservation in French Polynesia: A Major Project Completed

I was delighted to be able to help when Island Conservation asked to use my video footage of the critically endangered Polynesian Ground-Dove (Alopecoenas erythropterus, previously Gallicolumba erythropterus) which I took in 2009 on a rat-freed islet of the huge atoll of Rangiroa in the Tuamotus of French Polynesia (see my post of 31 October 2012). Island Conservation along with BirdLife International and MANU (Société d'Ornithologie de Polynésie) have been making heroic efforts to clear islands of invasive species. Rats tagging along with the spread of Polynesians across the Pacific devastated the bird populations. The partners in this enterprise have just complete a massive operation aimed at eradicating rats from six islands of the Acteon group and Gambier archipelago of French Polynesia.

The Acteon and Gambier islands of French Polynesia
The logistics of operating with support vessels and helicopters in remote places are challenging to say the least, as the press release notes:

Delivering this incredibly important result for native wildlife required a herculean logistical commitment and a team of 31 personnel hailing from three continents and six countries. The successful shipment of hundreds of tonnes of equipment, and donated supplies from key partners Bell Laboratories and Tomcat, to these remote islands (including a helicopter); and the ability to overcome adverse weather, intestinal maladies and sleep deprivation, was some testimony to the three years of planning and preparation!

Using island restoration methods proven on over 400 islands around the world, the team created much-needed safe habitat for the resident and Critically Endangered Polynesian Ground-dove, Endangered Tuamotu Sandpiper Prosobonia parvirostris (Titi) and Endangered Polynesian Storm-petrel Nesofregetta fuliginosa, as well as a number of Critically Endangered plant species.

If you are reading this blog please read the press release from the three organisations. They deserve great praise, all our support and financial backing for the major works are conservation they undertake.

My footage was incorporated into a short video and you can read the press release—and see the video—here.

If you want to see the video again it is here:

My footage of the Polynesian Ground-Dove from 2009: