email a friend
printable version
Location Fiji, Lomaiviti
Central coordinates 179o 19.00' East  18o 1.00' South
IBA criteria A1, A2, A4ii
Area 5,200 ha
Altitude 300 - 738m
Year of IBA assessment 2006

NatureFiji- MareqetiViti (Affiliate)

Summary Gau is the only known breeding site of the Fiji Petrel. The nesting areas are 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 in Fiji and a number of endemic forest species.

Site description Gau is the fifth largest island in Fiji. Mt Delaco, the island’s highest peak, rises to 738 m above sealevel while Delacoboni is 705m asl.  The land is rugged dominated by the summits in the north and a main ridge running south (Watling 1986).  .  

Key Biodiversity There are only a handful of records of Fiji Petrels on land in the world, all of single birds attracted to village lights on Gau. Tens or hundreds of pairs of Collared Petrel constitute the only known regular breeding site of this species in Fiji. Two subspecies, Island Thrush T. p. hades and Golden Whistler P. p. vitiensis, are endemic to Gau. There are13 restricted range species in the forests (out of 36 in Fiji). A4ii Congregatory Both seabird species * Fiji Petrel – meets the threshold of >1 pair * Collared Petrel – meets the threshold of >10 pairs

Non-bird 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.

Populations of IBA trigger species

Species Season Period Population estimate Quality of estimate IBA Criteria IUCN Category
Fiji Petrel Pseudobulweria macgillivrayi breeding  2004  < 50 individuals  poor  A1, A4ii  Critically Endangered 
Collared Petrel Pterodroma brevipes breeding  1984  165 individuals  poor  A1, A4ii  Vulnerable 
Tahiti Petrel Pseudobulweria rostrata breeding  2005  unknown  A1  Near Threatened 
Fiji Goshawk Accipiter rufitorques resident  2005  frequent  A2  Least Concern 
Shy Ground-dove Alopecoenas stairi resident  2005  rare  A1, A2  Vulnerable 
Many-coloured Fruit-dove Ptilinopus perousii resident  2005  uncommon  A2  Least Concern 
Golden Dove Chrysoena luteovirens resident  2005  common  A2  Least Concern 
Barking Imperial-pigeon Ducula latrans resident  2005  common  A2  Least Concern 
Collared Lory Phigys solitarius resident  2005  rare  A2  Least Concern 
Maroon Shining-parrot Prosopeia tabuensis resident  2005  common  A1, A2  Least Concern 
Orange-breasted Myzomela Myzomela jugularis resident  2005  abundant  A2  Least Concern 
Fiji Woodswallow Artamus mentalis resident  2005  common  A2  Least Concern 
Fiji Shrikebill Clytorhynchus vitiensis resident  2005  common  A2  Least Concern 
Vanikoro Flycatcher Myiagra vanikorensis resident  2005  abundant  A2  Least Concern 
Layard's White-eye Zosterops explorator resident  2005  common  A2  Least Concern 
Polynesian Starling Aplonis tabuensis resident  2005  common  A2  Least Concern 

IBA Monitoring

2012 high not assessed low
Poor - based on little, or potentially unreliable/unrepresentative, data

Agriculture and aquaculture annual & perennial non-timber crops - small-holder farming happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low
Invasive & other problematic species, genes & diseases invasive non-native/alien species/diseases - named species happening now whole area/population (>90%) slow but significant deterioration high
Natural system modifications fire & fire suppression - increase in fire frequency/intensity happening now small area/few individuals (<10%) moderate to rapid deterioration low

Pterodroma brevipes Collared Petrel 625 625 individuals 100 not assessed

Little/none of site covered (<10%)  No management plan exists but the management planning process has begun  Substantive conservation measures are being implemented but these are not comprehensive and are limited by resources and capacity  low 


IUCN habitat Habitat detail Extent (% of site)
Forest   major

Land use

Land-use Extent (% of site)
other minor
Notes: Telecom repeater tower (and access track)

Protection status Unprotected. Site of National Significance.   Included in list of sites proposed for protection as part of the Fiji Governments Protected Area Committee.  This was approved by the NEC.  

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.

Contribute  Please click here to help BirdLife conserve the world's birds - your data for this IBA and others are vital for helping protect the environment.

Recommended citation  BirdLife International (2016) Important Bird and Biodiversity Area factsheet: Gau Highlands. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife