Conservation boost for Tahiti Monarch
A conservation programme for one of world’s most threatened birds, Tahiti Monarch Pomarea nigra, has received a welcome double boost by the appointment of La Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie “MANU” (BirdLife in French Polynesia) as the Species Guardian and financial support from the BirdLife Preventing Extinction Programme.
Tahiti Monarch was once widespread in Tahiti but predation of the nests by Black Rat Rattus rattus – that not only eat the eggs and young, but kill the females on the nests – meant that by the 1990s Tahiti Monarch was limited to four valleys in Western Tahiti. It is now classified as Critically Endangered by BirdLife on behalf of the IUCN Red List.
A conservation programme was initiated by MANU. This work focused on monitoring the breeding territories, placing metal bands on nesting trees to prevent rats climbing them and applying rat bait during the breeding season. The early project was a success and the dramatic population collapse was halted. However, with only 23 known birds and a total estimated population of 30-40, the species is far from secure.