This species qualifies as Endangered because it has a very small distribution, on four islands, and is assumed to be undergoing a continuing slow decline owing to predation by black rats. However, recent reintroduction efforts appear to have been successful and could lead to a population increase.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Distribution and populationVini kuhlii
18 cm. Fast-flying parakeet with pointed tail. Mostly dark green above, crimson-red cheeks and underparts. Dark purple patch on nape (of young birds only). Orange-red bill. Dull orange feet. Voice Harsh screech. Hints Found in residential areas and flowering trees, usually in pairs or in small groups.
is restricted to Rimatara in the Tubuai Islands (and according to local people may have occurred on Rurutu in the past [P. Raust in litt.
), French Polynesia
, and to Teraina (= Washington), Tabuaeran (= Fanning) and Kiritimati (= Christmas Island), Kiribati
. W. Ellis contrasted Rimatara with Rurutu in 1820 by saying that Rimatara is known to have many colourful parrots, and there is no other historic or archaeological reason for believing that the lorikeet was naturalised on Rurutu (G. McCormack in litt
. Fossil and oral traditions indicate that the species was formerly on at least five of the Southern Cook Islands (Steadman 1989, McCormack and Künzle 1996)
. On Rimatara, the population was estimated at c.905 birds (minimum) following survey work in 1992 (McCormack and Künzle 1996)
, then at c.750 birds in 2000 (G.
McCormack in litt.
, 610 birds in 2004 (
and 1,079 birds in 2009 (Albar et al.
2009), although this number may be an overestimate due to the timing of the study, differences in methodology and potential double-counting of individuals. In April 2007, twenty-seven birds were re-introduced to Atiu in the Cook Islands from Rimatara. Atiu has similar vegetation to Rimatara and is free of black rat Rattus rattus
, although Pacific rat R. exulans
is abundant. The first breeding on Atiu was reported in 2008, with four birds having already spread to the neighbouring island of Mitiaro (Lieberman and McCormack 2008, Malcolm 2008
The introduction appears to have been successful, with the population estimated at c.40 birds in 2009, 90 ± 19 birds in 2010 and 92 ± 24 birds in 2011 (R. Malcolm in litt
. 2010, 2012),
although the 2011 estimate is likely to be an underestimate due to observer error (Malcolm 2011, R. Malcolm in litt. 2012
). On Teraina, the population is estimated at 1,000 individuals (minimum), with 50 on Tabuaeran, possibly fewer, on a single islet in the atoll (Watling 1995)
. On Kiritimati, a few individuals were reported to survive in 1999 (D. Watling in litt.
1999), although the species was suggested to be 'common' in the
plantations to the north of the village of London in 2008 (P. Fraser in litt. 2008
A population estimate of at least 2,000 individuals, roughly equivalent to 1,300 mature individuals, is derived from Watling (1995), McCormack and Kunzle (1996), D. Watling ( in litt.
1999), Albar et al.
(2009) and R. Malcolm (in litt.
Although populations are thought to be stable on Rimatara and Teraina, and increasing on Atiu where it was recently introduced, invasive predators are likely to be causing a decline on Tabuaeran and Kiritimati, thus the overall trend is suspected to be a slow to moderate, continuing decline.Ecology
On Rimatara, the most favoured habitat is mixed horticultural woodlands, including coconut and Paraserianthes falcataria
plantations, and it is rare in native makatea forest (McCormack and Künzle 1996)
. On Teraina and Tabuaeran, it is effectively confined to coconut plantations (Watling 1995)
. It feeds on nectar from a wide variety of flowering plants (nearly all recently introduced) (McCormack and Künzle 1996)
Excessive exploitation for its red feathers is the most likely reason for the species's extinction from the Cook Islands (Watling 1995,
McCormack and Künzle 1996)
. A serious threat to all small lorikeets on Pacific islands is nest-predation by rats, especially black rat Rattus rattus
(Seitre and Seitre 1991, 1992, Gouni
. On Rimatara, extensive trapping showed R. rattus
to be absent in 2000, while R. exulans
was widespread and abundant (G.
McCormack in litt.
Gouni et al.
. Extensive trapping in 2007 confirmed this situation (Gouni et al.
2007). On Teraina, there is no evidence of the presence of R. rattus,
although Pacific rat R. exulans
is abundant while on Tabuaeran and Mitiaro, R. rattus
occurs (Watling 1995, G. McCormack in litt. 2009). C
ats may be a threat on Kiritimati. The Common Myna Acridotheres tristis
is a threat to the introduced population on Atiu as it competes for nesting sites and has been reported to attack fledglings (Lieberman and McCormack 2008, Malcolm 2008, Heptonstall 2010). Conservation actions underway
CITES Appendix II. In Kiribati, the species is fully-protected (Watling 1995). In French Polynesia the species is protected by national legislation since 1996, and on Rimatara it has been protected by a traditional tapu (taboo) since c.1900. 27 individuals were reintroduced to Atiu from Rimatara in May 2007 (G. McCormack in litt
2006, Gouni et al.
2007), following which a community contest was organised to find the first young birds, with a reward given to the winner (G. McCormack in litt
2007). Monthly counting of the birds on Atiu is conducted to assess the success of the introduction effort (R. Malcolm in litt. 2010)
. A Common Myna control programme began on Atiu in May 2009, including baiting and and trapping by locals, with a bounty for each bird killed. By October 2009 the myna population had been reduced by c.60% (G. McCormack in litt.
2009) and this programme is continuing, however complete eradication of the mynahs has now been suggested (R. Malcolm in litt.
2012). In June 2010 a group of 8 school children and 4 adults from Rimatara visited Atiu to celebrate the success of the introduction (G. Albar et al. in litt. 2010,
Heptonstall 2010). On Rimatara, 21 bait stations were set up on the main wharf in September 2009 to prevent black rats
from invading the island and awareness-raising is being carried out amongst children on the importance of protecting the island’s avifauna (Albar et al.
2009). There are plans to trial rat-excluding nestboxes on Mitiaro (G. McCormack in litt.
2009). Conservation actions proposed
On Rimatara and Atiu, monitor the population every two or three years (McCormack and Künzle 1996). Launch a major quarantine campaign to prevent the accidental introduction of R. rattus
to those islands (McCormack and Künzle 1996, Gouni
Gouni et al.
2007). On Tabuaeran, investigate the species's survival with R. rattus
and take steps to eradicate the predator (D. Watling in litt.
1999). In Kiribati, promote greater awareness and enforcement of the wildlife legislation (Watling 1995). Survey the population on Teraina and Kiribati. On Atui, train nationals in monitoring techniques to facilitate regular monitoring. Continue conducting awareness campaigns with the local population of Rimatara to explain why this bird is important (Gouni 2005, Gouni et al. 2007).Continue Common Mynah A. tristis control and assess feasibility of eradication on Atiu (R. Malcolm in litt. 2012).
Related state of the world's birds case studies
Steadman, D. W. 1989. Extinctions of birds in Eastern Polynesia: a review of the records and comparisons with other Pacific Island Groups. Journal of Archaeological Science 16: 177-205.
Seitre, R.; Seitre, J. 1992. Causes of land-bird extinctions in French Polynesia. Oryx 26: 215-222.
Watling, D. 1995. Notes on the status of Kuhl's Lorikeet Vini kuhlii in the Northern Line Islands, Kiribati. Bird Conservation International 5: 481-489.
McCormack, G.; Künzlé, J. 1996. The 'Ura or Rimatara Lorikeet Vini kuhlii: its former range, present status, and conservation priorities. Bird Conservation International 6: 325-334.
Gouni, A.; Zysman, T. 2007. Oiseaux du Fenua: Tahiti et ses îles. Téthys Éditions, Tahiti.
Gouni, A., Millett, J., Mccormack, G., Lieberman, A., Rideout, B., Fasan, C., Sulpice, C., Varney, A., Tehio, S., Malcom, R., Amteariki, G. and Parker, G. 2007. La réintroduction du Lori de Kuhl Vini kuhlii sur Atiu, île Cook. Société d'Ornithologie de Polynésie "MANU", Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia.
Further web sources of information
Hear sounds for this species from xeno-canto, the community database of shared bird sounds from around the world.
View photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection
Text account compilers
Derhé, M., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A., Shutes, S., Stattersfield, A.
Albar, G., Fraser, P., Gouni, A., Malcolm, R., McCormack, G., Raust, P., Watling, D.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2013) Species factsheet: Vini kuhlii. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 24/05/2013.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2013) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 24/05/2013.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000)
Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004)
Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
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