|Central coordinates||134o 24.00' East 7o 15.00' North|
|IBA criteria||A1, A2|
|Year of IBA assessment||2008|
Ornithological information The Rock Islands is one of only two IBAs where the Giant White-eye has been recorded. In the Rock Islands, the Giant White-eye was common only on the island of Ngeruktabel. The Palauan name Charmbedel ra Iouldaob suggests that the bird’s distribution may be limited in Palau - Iouldaob meaning the islands south of the main island of Babeldaob. Another occupant of the Rock Islands that does not trigger any IBA criteria is the Blue-faced Parrotfinch. This bird, rare in Palau, is found in the forests of the high limestone Rock Islands or often spotted in the Casuarina trees on sandy strands. The Blue-faced Parrotfinch is very rare on Babeldaob and is captured in only three out of the eight IBAs. Its small size and preference for the upper canopy makes it especially difficult to locate. Palau Ground-doves were seen at Ulong Island. Nicobar Pigeons were commonly seen at Ngerukuid Reserve. Micronesian Megapodes are present throughout the Rock Islands. Several seabirds, including the Audubon’s Shearwater, Bridled Tern, and Black-naped Tern are also present.
Site description The Rock Islands are a group of more than 500 high limestone islands scattered over a 621 km2 area of lagoon that stretches between Koror and Peleliu. The land area of the major islands in the group is approximately 35 km2. For the sole purpose of IBA delineation, the Rock Islands Complex includes the major island groupings of Ngeruktabel, Ulong, Mecherchar, Ngerukuid, and the larger islands around Nikko Bay — Ulebsechel, Ngermeuangel, and Ngeteklou. The IBA includes only terrestrial areas. The Rock Islands are Palau’s main tourism and recreation area and are managed by the Koror State Government (KSG 2005). Day to day operation of both the marine and terrestrial areas is managed by Koror State Conservation and Law Enforcement Division. The division employs 35 rangers and support staff who work around the clock.
|Species||Season||Period||Population estimate||Quality of estimate||IBA Criteria||IUCN Category|
|Micronesian Megapode Megapodius laperouse||resident||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A1, A2||Endangered|
|Palau Ground-dove Gallicolumba canifrons||resident||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Near Threatened|
|Palau Fruit-dove Ptilinopus pelewensis||resident||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Micronesian Imperial-pigeon Ducula oceanica||resident||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Near Threatened|
|Palau Swiftlet Collocalia pelewensis||resident||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Micronesian Kingfisher Todiramphus cinnamominus||resident||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Micronesian Myzomela Myzomela rubratra||resident||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Morningbird Pachycephala tenebrosa||resident||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Palau Fantail Rhipidura lepida||resident||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Mangrove Flycatcher Myiagra erythrops||resident||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Palau Bush-warbler Cettia annae||resident||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Caroline Islands White-eye Zosterops semperi||resident||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Dusky White-eye Zosterops finschii||resident||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Giant White-eye Megazosterops palauensis||resident||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Near Threatened|
|Micronesian Starling Aplonis opaca||resident||2005||present [units unknown]||-||A2||Least Concern|
|Protected area||Designation||Area (ha)||Relationship with IBA||Overlap with IBA (ha)|
|Rock Islands||State Conservation Area||100,000||protected area contains site||3,500|
|IUCN habitat||Habitat detail||Extent (% of site)|
|Forest||Beach and atoll forest; Lowland evergreen rain forest (tropical)||major|
|Land-use||Extent (% of site)|
|nature conservation and research||major|
Other biodiversity Terrestrial habitats included in this IBA are exposed and protected strand vegetation, coastal scrub and limestone forests. These habitats support many of Palau’s endemic species of flora and fauna, including threatened species like the endemic rock island palm, and the Marianas fruit bat. The beaches on the islands provide Palau’s largest hawksbill turtle nesting sites and the surrounding waters are habitats for green sea turtles, dugongs, fish, invertebrates and coral reefs. The Rock Islands also includes the famous Jellyfish Lake, and many other marine lakes that support unique habitats and communities of organisms.
Management considerations This IBA includes the oldest conservation area in Palau, the Ngerukuid Islands, which was established by national legislation in 1956. The Rock Islands is arguably the most effectively managed protected area in Palau. An overwhelming majority of visitors to Palau visit these islands and surrounding reefs and the state government enjoys substantial economic benefit from protecting and managing this valuable resource. The number of visitors to the Rock Islands is steadily increasing and this trend is expected to continue. The main threats to the biodiversity of the Rock Islands and the surrounding waters are the potential impacts of the rising number of visitors and the presence and introduction of invasive species, including rodents, cats and macaques. In 2007, the fee to visit the Rock Islands was increased, however, whether this fee increase will affect the visitor numbers is yet to be determined.
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Recommended citation BirdLife International (2013) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Rock Islands, Palau. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/05/2013
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