Polynesian Imperial-pigeon Ducula aurorae is endemic to French Polynesia. It is currently listed as Endangered under criterion D of the IUCN Red List on the basis that it has a very small population (<250 mature individuals).
On Tahiti, it may already be extinct. It was restricted to the Papeno`o and Hitia`a valleys in 1986-1990 (Monnet et al. 1993b), but none were reported in 1998, and in 2006 it was considered unlikely to persist (Te Manu 1998 22: 2, Thibault and Cibois 2006). On Makatea, the population was judged to lie between 100 and 500 individuals in 1986-1987, but may now be increasing slightly following a reduction in hunting (Thibault and Guyot 1987, Thibault and Cibois 2006) and mining activities. A survey on Makatea in 2009 estimated the total population size at 1,206 individuals (with 95% confidence intervals giving a range of 867-1,677 individuals, roughly equating to 570-1,200 mature individuals) (Albar et al. 2009, 2010). If confirmed, and if the population is stable or increasing, this species would warrant downlisting to Vulnerable under criterion D1 of the IUCN Red List, on the basis that there are still estimated to be <1,000 mature individuals. However, this species could decline in the near future owing to habitat destruction from proposed new mining activities and infrastructure development on Makatea, or if the Swamp Harrier Circus approximans colonises the island; the likely cause of Polynesian Imperial-pigeon extinction on formerly inhabited islands (Holyoak and Thibault 1984, Thibault 1988, Seitre and Seitre 1991, Thibault and Cibois 2006).
Further information is required on population size, trend and distribution of this species, and comments on its proposed downlisting are welcome.
Albar, G., Gouni, A., Kesler, D. C., Thierry, A., Serra, C. and Faulquier, L. (2009) Etude de l’avifaune endémique de l’île de Makatea, archipel des Tuamotu, Polynésie française. Unpublished report. Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie Manu, Tahiti, French Polynesia, 22 p.
Albar, G., Kesler, D. C. and Gouni, A. 2010. Observations and status of birds of Makatea and Niau Islands, Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia.
Holyoak, D. T. and Thibault, J. C. (1984) Contribution à l’étude des oiseaux de Polynésie orientale. Memoires du Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle – Serie A: Zoologie 127: 1-209.
Monnet, C., Thibault, J. and Varney, A. (1993) Stability and changes during the twentieth century in the breeding landbirds of Tahiti (Polynesia). Bird Conservation International 3: 261-280.
Seitre, R. and Seitre, J. (1991) Causes de disparition des oiseaux terrestres de Polynésie Française. South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, Nouméa.
Thibault, J. C. and Guyot, I. (1987) Recent changes in the avifauna of Makatea Island (Tuamotus, Central Pacific). Atoll Research Bulletin 300: 1-13.
Thibault, J. C. (1988) Menaces et conservation des oiseaux de Polynésie Française. In: Thibault, J.-C.; Guyot, I. (ed.), Livre rouge des oiseaux menacés des régions françaises d’outre-mer, pp. 87-124. Conseil International pour la Protection des Oiseaux, Saint-Cloud.
Thibault, J. C. and Cibois, A. (2006) Une situation favorable pour le Rupe de Makatea. Te Manu 54: 2-3.
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