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Southern Cook Islands
Country/Territory Cook Islands
Area 190 
Altitude 0 - 600m  
Priority urgent 
Habitat loss moderate 
Knowledge incomplete 

General characteristics 

This EBA covers the islands of Mitiaro, Atiu, Mauke, Rarotonga and Mangaia. Aitutaki, one of the northernmost islands of the Southern Cook Islands group, is treated separately (Secondary Area s135) as there are no reliable records that restricted-range species have historically been shared between it and the islands of the EBA. The Cook Islands are self-governing but, since 1965, have been in free association with New Zealand.

Rarotonga is the most populated, the largest (67

Restricted-range species 

Most of the restricted-range species are typically confined to native forest (disturbed and undisturbed) in inland Rarotonga or to the makatea forest of the raised atolls.

The pattern of distribution between the islands is very patchy, but it seems likely that at least some of the species were more widespread in the group prior to 1800, but were extirpated as a result of the activities of Polynesian settlers (see, e.g., Kirch et al. 1992). Kuhl's Lorikeet Vini kuhlii, a restricted-range species from Rimatara in French Polynesia (EBA 211), is also likely to have been widespread in this EBA, but was extirpated through exploitation for its red feathers (Steadman 1991, McCormack and K

Species IUCN Category
Rarotonga Fruit-dove (Ptilinopus rarotongensis)  VU 
Atiu Swiftlet (Aerodramus sawtelli)  VU 
Chattering Kingfisher (Todiramphus tutus)  LC 
Mangaia Kingfisher (Todiramphus ruficollaris)  VU 
Rarotonga Monarch (Pomarea dimidiata)  VU 
Cook Islands Reed-warbler (Acrocephalus kerearako)  NT 
Mysterious Starling (Aplonis mavornata)  EX 
Rarotonga Starling (Aplonis cinerascens)  VU 

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)

IBA Code Site Name Country
  Atiu  Cook Islands 
  Mangaia  Cook Islands 
  Miti'aro Island  Cook Islands 
  Takitumu Conservation Area, Rarotonga  Cook Islands 

Threats and conservation 

The ranges and densities of all restricted-range species are likely to have been affected by the clearance of forest by man and its degradation through browsing by introduced herbivores-and by the resulting fragmentation of native primary habitat. The four single-island endemics, which have tiny world ranges and small populations, are therefore considered threatened.

Pomarea dimidiata (Rarotonga only) is classified as Critical and was close to extinction in the early 1980s. A remnant population, of a bird recorded as widespread and common on the island in the mid-1800s, survived in 1.5 km2 of native forest in the south-east, in the lower foothills and steep V-shaped valleys at 100-250 m. However, suitable habitat was available elsewhere and introduced rats (especially black rat Rattus rattus introduced by Europeans) were identified as the main obstacle to successful nesting; subsequent rat control has resulted in an increasing population, starting with a low of 29 birds in 1989, 56 in 1992 and increasing to over 100 in 1995. In August 1997 the population stood at a minimum of 144 birds and, as the numbers have been above 50 birds (all mature birds capable of breeding) for nearly five years, the species is a likely candidate for the down-grading of its threat status

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Endemic Bird Area factsheet: Southern Cook Islands. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016

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