BirdLife Appeal: Pacific Parrots
The beautiful islands of the Pacific are home to spectacular species that exist nowhere else, including one quarter of the world’s Globally Threatened Birds.
Many of these birds and their habitats are under intense threat due to the accidental introduction of invasive pests, particularly Black Rat Rattus rattus.
This agile, disease-carrying predator climbs trees to access nesting sites, where it hunts eggs and chicks for food, often inadvertantly destroying nests. They compete with native species for essential insect and plant food and have had a devastating impact on biodiversity. Their presence also leads to serious economic problems from crop damage and grave human health problems because of their role as disease vectors.
Accidental introductions of Black Rat have led to the extinction of numerous species in the Pacific and elsewhere.
Species that have fared particularly badly include the small parrots of the Pacific. Many have been eradicated from smaller islands, including French Polynesia and the Cook Islands, as a result of rats being accidentally introduced. On larger islands including Fiji and New Caledonia, numbers of parrots have dwindled, and the birds have retreated to the uplands – or disappeared altogether.
The good news is that highly effective techniques for eradicating rats have been developed and are being implemented by conservationists, particularly by the BirdLife Partner in New Zealand. They are one of the key conservation measures that need to be taken to save threatened species from extinction. The challenge we face however is to do this on a scale and in time to halt the extinction crisis.
Accidental introductions of Black Rat have led to the extinction of numerous species in the Pacific and elsewhere...