Where are the French Polynesian Islands LocatedWhich are the French Polynesian Islands?
Back to paradise: Restoration of the French Polynesian Islands
A further extirpation of rats is under way, this year in the Pacific Paradise of the French Polynesian Islands. Situated midway between California and Australia in the South Pacific, it is known as an exquisite exodus of islands full of breathtaking blue coloured lakes and scenic romance. It is the site of what is probably the biggest rats extermination program of all times.
SOP Manu (BirdLife partner in French Polynesia) and Iceland Conservation run BirdLife International in the French Polynesian Islands. This first stage of lure use was completed in July this year. The French Polynesian Brodifacoum pellet scheme is Bell's biggest lure contribution to date with over 200,000lbs.
A 31-strong research group successfully completed the lure release of rodenticides. Over a period of several wks, the squad lured over 1,300 ha of property, distributed over two islands of the Acteon Group (Vahanga and Tenarunga) and four islands of the Gambier Group (Temoe, Kamaka, Makaroa and Manui). This French Polynesian operation will take 20 years and 48 islands and will require more than 16 million lures on almost 100,000 acres.
This is an ambition - with the hopes that the archipelago will be free of invading rodent life and that the indigenous flora and fauna will regain their fabulous richness and splendour. The main aim of the Eurasian Pigeon Recovery Programme is to rebuild the population of one of the rarest and most threatened bird species in the planet, the Polynesian Ground Pigeon.
Only in French Polynesia have invertebrates almost eradicated the populations, with BirdLife International still estimated less than 100 nowadays. In spite of the islands' insulation, the local populations were not resistant to man. The Norwegian Council, the Polynesian Council and other invertebrates overrun the archipelago of French Polynesia a few centuries ago.
The young chickens and juveniles of the famous pigeon, along with indigenous varieties such as the threatened Tuamotu Sandpiper. As the islet types developed without predators, they were particularly vulnerable to starving gnawers that exploited the chickens and balls of the in flight incapable chick. "Non-resident invertebrates are a major factor in the worldwide decline in biodiversity," said Don Stewart, director of BirdLife Pacific.
"Imported animals alone are the cause of 90% of all deaths since 1500 and are currently the major cause of the decrease of nine out of ten internationally vulnerable Pacific birds". These famous and vulnerable fish would be in danger of becoming extinct without the assistance of Bell and Island Conservation.
Completing Phase 1 is a notable step in the conservation of the islands. For many years and with millions of quid to be dispensed, Bell and Iceland Conservation's partner are working to remove 100% of them. "Only 100% extinction is tolerable for isolated projects," says Craig Riekena, Compliance Manager at Bell.
If, during follow-up examinations, rodent species are found after one and two years after submission of the proposal, the study is deemed to have failed. The intrinsic quarantine of these islands and the characteristic shortage of carnivores means that few unkiled gnawers will re-populate and return to their path of destruction within a few years.
According to preliminary studies, the subproject is showing results. "It' ll be a year before we can pronounce the six islands rat-free, but the first indications are very positive," said Steve Cranwell - BirdLife Pacific's Operations Manager and invasive species specialist, in a recently released Central Office survey. "More Polynesian ground pigeons and Tuamotu sandpipers have been spotted on Vahanga in the last few day of the operation," said Richard Griffiths, director of the Island Conservationject.
"It is a symbol of hopes for a convalescence not only for these French Polynesian endangered fish but for the hundred endangered insular varieties around the globe awaiting similar intervention in their names.