|Central coordinates||179o 19.00' East 18o 1.00' South|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2, A4ii|
|Altitude||300 - 738m|
|Year of IBA assessment||2006|
Ornithological information There are only a handful of records of Fiji Petrels in the world, all of single birds attracted to lights on Gau. Tens or hundreds of pairs of Collared Petrel constitute the only known breeding site of this species but several other islands are likely to support this poorly known species. Two subspecies, Island Thrush T. p. hades and Golden Whistler P. p. vitiensis, are endemic to Gau. A1 Globally threatened species * Fiji Petrel (CR) – the only known breeding site for this species * [Tahiti Petrel (NT) – has also been found ashore and is likely to breed] * Collared Petrel (NT) – the only known breeding site (but several other sites are suspected) A2 Restricted-range species 13 species (out of 36 in Fiji). A4ii Congregatory seabird species * Fiji Petrel – meets the threshold of >1 pair * Collared Petrel – meets the threshold of >10 pairs
Site description Gau is the only known breeding site of the Fiji Petrel (CR). The exact nesting areas are unknown but presumed to be in the forested hills and mountains of the island interior. This same area also has the largest known population of Collared Petrels (NT) and a number of endemic forest species.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Collared Petrel Pterodroma brevipes||breeding||1984||165 individuals||poor||A1, A4ii||Vulnerable|
|Fiji Petrel Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi||breeding||2005||1 individuals||poor||A1, A4ii||Critically Endangered|
|Tahiti Petrel Pseudobulweria rostrata||breeding||2005||unknown [units unknown]||-||A1||Near Threatened|
|Fiji Goshawk Accipiter rufitorques||resident||2005||frequent [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Shy Ground-dove Gallicolumba stairi||resident||2005||rare [units unknown]||-||A1, A2||Vulnerable|
|Many-coloured Fruit-dove Ptilinopus perousii||resident||2005||uncommon [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Golden Dove Ptilinopus luteovirens||resident||2005||common [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Peale's Imperial-pigeon Ducula latrans||resident||2005||common [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Collared Lory Phigys solitarius||resident||2005||rare [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Red Shining-parrot Prosopeia tabuensis||resident||2005||common [units unknown]||-||A1, A2||Least Concern|
|Orange-breasted Myzomela Myzomela jugularis||resident||2005||abundant [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Fiji Woodswallow Artamus mentalis||resident||2005||common [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Fiji Shrikebill Clytorhynchus vitiensis||resident||2005||common [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Vanikoro Flycatcher Myiagra vanikorensis||resident||2005||abundant [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Layard's White-eye Zosterops explorator||resident||2005||common [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Polynesian Starling Aplonis tabuensis||resident||2005||common [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|Notes: Telecom repeater tower (and access track)|
Other biodiversity Gau is free of mongoose and supports good numbers of amphibians and reptiles including the Fijian Ground Frog (EN) and Banded Iguana (EN). Preliminary studies suggest that it has high numbers of endemic plants.
Management considerations Invasive Alien Species - Agriculture (subsistence)
Protection status Unprotected. Site of National Significance.
Conservation response Fiji Petrel conservation is likely to be dependent on controlling various invasive alien predators. Small petrels across the world are susceptible to predation at the nest by feral/introduced cats, pigs and rats, all of which are present throughout the forest on Gau. There appear to be no cliffs or inaccessible mountainous ledges on Gau where petrels could nest out of the reach of these predators. Research is urgently needed to locate the petrel nesting grounds, to monitor breeding success and the impact of these predators. Fortunately, Gau lacks mongoose but conservation action needs to include preventative measures to ensure that they do not colonise from nearby Viti Levu and Vanua Levu. The hill forests are not under extensive threat of clearance or degradation but subsistence gardens are slowly encroaching uphill and there are reports of villagers finding newly dug burrows within their gardens. These burrows are likely to be made by Wedge-tailed Shearwaters, not Fiji Petrels. Shifting cultivation leaves grassland fallows which are at risk from uncontrolled fire which can damage adjacent forest. Agricultural activities are slowly increasing as the population increases, and as some restrictions are placed on harvesting of marine resources. There may be potential for a low level of specialised ecotourism to cater for interested ornithologists as and when the Fiji Petrel nesting grounds have been located.
References BIRDLIFE INTERNATIONAL (2005) Fiji Programme IBA project field reports Nos 37 and 38. Unpublished reports. PLANT, A. R., QALO, K. M., VERERUSA, K. AND WATLING, D. (1989) A Tahiti Petrel (Pseudobulweria rostrata) from Gau Island, Fiji. Notornis 36:149–150. PRIDDEL, D., CARLILE, N. AND WATLING, D. (2003) Recovery Plan for the Critically Endangered Fiji Petrel Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi. Suva: Environmental Consultants (Fiji) Ltd. Unpublished report. TUIWAWA, M. in litt. 2005 WATLING, D. AND LEWANAVANUA, R. F. (1985) A note to record the continuing survival of the Fiji (MacGillivray’s) Petrel Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi. Ibis 127: 230–233.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Gau Highlands. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/05/2013
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