29 Jan 2016

French Ministry of Education awards school children for their contribution to saving the Tahiti Monarch

2+2 School Children working to save the Taihiti Monach - photo by Caroline Blanvillan
By Caroline Blanvillan

Tahiti Monarch is one of the world’s most endangered birds but an intensive programme by Birdlife French Polynesian Partner SOP Manu and the local community is bringing it back from the brink.  Funding is now being sought to enable the transfer of some of the existing birds to start a second (security) population.

In another back story to the local efforts to save this iconic bird, the French Ministry of Education has awarded an `Eco-label’ to one classroom in the 2+2 School in the Panaauia District of Tahiti in French Polynesia.  Their work to the save the Omama’o (Tahiti Monarch) was what they chose as the subject of their application for the award.

In 2015, 8 children of this classroom prepared a film on the monarch and the efforts to save it.  They then showed the film and made a presentation to a large public gathering in the Punaauia district. This is the district which includes the Maruapo valley, where the biggest monarch population is located. During a ‘Green days’ event they hosted all the schools of Punaauia (more than 900 children) and told them about the decline of the monarch and the programme to save them.  This school event was also open to public so many adults also listened to the presentation – which was 100% prepared and give by these young citizens.   On 22 January they also presented on the Tahiti Monarch too all the 500 children who go to the 2+2 School.

The eco-project submitted to the French Ministry of Education was very impressive and summarized all the work done by the school to save the Tahiti Monarch including working with SOP Manu, production of plants to help Monarch habitat restoration, and generally promoting the importance of the Monarch and its plight to the community.

At the presentation ceremony, Caroline Blanvillan, SOP Manu’s, Manager for Terrestrial Birds told the audience that when they started the collaboration with 2+2, in 2012, only 35 birds were known.  She said that “thanks to the efforts and help from the local people, in the removal of invasive plants and restoration planting the world population of Tahiti Monarch is now 55 birds!

This is conservation in action.

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