15 Jun 2015

Operation Restoration - island update #2

The second update from the field in our huge Acteon & Gambier Island Restoration Operation. Photo: Alain Petit
By Shaun Hurrell

Last week, we embarked on one of our most adventurous projects to date: a huge operation to restore remote tropical islands in French Polynesia. 

We have received another report from Steve Cranwell – BirdLife Invasive Species expert in the Pacific, and logistical guru – who is in the middle of the Pacific, on an incredibly remote and uninhabited atoll in the Acteon & Gambier archipelagos:

Steve reports via satelite phone

Wild Unloading 7 June

Good day yesterday – off-loaded all equipment and departed for Gambier. Helicopter was to fly through to Gambier but turned back to due to showers. Hoping we can still time the helicopter to arrive in Gambier when we do this morning.

Did a late night landing onto one of the islands last night to drop off fuel drums for the helicopter. Surf, lighting storm, boats, and burly Tahitians. Wild! Looking forward to some proper sleep. Lots of work to do but I’ll keep you posted, Steve.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter!

Please visit http://kriticalmass.com/p/savepacificbirds to show Steve, the team, Polynesian Ground-dove and nature your support for this incredibly important project. 

Six islands here are all vital for our global efforts to conserve Critically Endangered bird species Polynesian Ground-dove Alopecoenas erythropterus and other endangered birds, which are facing extinction because of non-native species (introduced by humans) such as rats, which eat their eggs and young. Removing the invaders is the immediate priority to save these native birds, other wildlife and restore the delicate ecological balance of the islands.

BirdLife International, with SOP Manu (BirdLife Partner in French Polynesia) and Island Conservation, is leading an extensive island restoration operation in a remote area of French Polynesia to save Critically Endangered birds species and restore the delicate ecological balance. Our ambitious project is restoring the Acteon & Gambier archipelagos to their former glory, safe and ready for the reintroduction of Tuamotu Sandpiper and Polynesian Ground-dove, and benefiting many other wildlife.

By sharing transport, equipment and expertise, we’ve significantly reduced the cost of restoring all six islands that are threatened, but is nonetheless our biggest project of the decade.

Additional technical assistance has come from the Pacific Invasives Intiative and the New Zealand Department of Conservation.

This project has received support from many international and national organisations with significant funding from the European Union, the British Birdwatching Fair, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund; sponsorships from Bell Laboratories and T-Gear Trust Canada; and assistance from the Government of French Polynesia and many individual people around the world.

But crucially we still need your help! Please support us at http://kriticalmass.com/p/savepacificbirds

Feedback from our supporters:

“Good luck with this urgent and essential work.”

“Just such a worthwhile project.”

“Let's work together to maintain biodiversity and contain damage done by human expansion.”

“Make those islands paradise again! Some mistakes are reversible, we have to take responsibility.”

“A worthy cause. Good luck.”

“Good luck in achieving here what has been done successfully on other islands.”

“You can have my Christmas present money. Good luck with your incredible efforts.”

“My grandchildren will probably never visit these Polynesian islands, but that's not the point. Others will visit, and hopefully see birds which these donations have helped save.”