Department of Conservation (DOC)

Since 1987, I have assisted the Cook Islands Conservation/Environment Service and, more recently, the Takitumu Conservation Area Project and the Avifauna Conservation Programme of the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) to plan and implement a recovery programme for the kakerori, a critically endangered forest bird endemic to Rarotonga. In 1989, the kakerori was one of the 10 rarest birds in the world, and classified as 'critically endangered' (Collar et al. 1994) with a population of just 29 birds. I calculated

In 1989, the kakerori (Pomarea dimidiata) was one of the 10 rarest birds in the world with a declining population of just 29 individuals living in forested hill country in the Takitumu Conservation Area (TCA) of south-eastern Rarotonga, Cook Islands. Following 12 years of rat poisoning, the population had increased to 255 birds in August 2001. The programme then shifted from ‘species recovery’ to ‘sustainable management’ of the Rarotonga population at 250 to 300 birds. The rat poisoning effort was reduced, and an ‘insurance’ population was established on Atiu.

In 1989, the kakerori (Pomarea dimidiata) was one of the 10 rarest bird species in the world, with a declining population of just 29 birds. During each breeding season since then, rats have been poisoned within the 155 ha of forested hill country they occupy in the Takitumu Conservation Area in southeastern Rarotonga. As a result, the kakerori population has rebounded, with a minimum of 292 birds found on Rarotonga in August 2003. In 2001/02, the emphasis of management shifted from the .recovery. of kakerori to a programme aimed at .sustaining. the population at 250.300 individuals.

This is the final report describing the results from the second and third years of a three-year programme to determine the costs and benefits of aerial 1080 possum control operations to North Island robins (Petroica australis longipes) and moreporks (Ninox novaeseelandiae) in Pureora Forest Park, North Island, New Zealand. During this study robins were individually colour-banded, and moreporks radio-tagged in both treatment and non-treatment study areas. A poison operation using carrot baits in August 1997 covered 8577 ha and incorporated the 300 ha Waimanoa study area.

The Tahiti flycatcher (Pomarea nigra) is one of several monarch flycatcher species in the Polynesian genus Pomarea, all of which are threatened. The Tahiti flycatcher is currently known from only the western side of Tahiti where, during the 1998-99 season, at least 24 individuals, including 10 pairs, were located in four valleys (Blanvillain 1999). Although ten nests were protected from rats in 1998-99, only three were successful in fledging young. Two of these young apparently disappeared one week after fledging and the third, two months after fledging (Blanvillain 1999).

Although Talon® baits containing brodifacoum have been used successfully in eradicating rats from some of New Zealand’s offshore islands, little is known about any environmental effects of this toxin. We sampled invertebrates, blackbirds, soil, and water at intervals of 2 days to 9 months to determine whether brodifacoum residues were present after aerial distribution of Talon® 20P cereal pellets on Red Mercury Island and after bait-station use of Talon® 50WB wax-coated cereal blocks on Coppermine Island.

On 6 January 2004. cyclone Heta devastated much of the South Pacific island nation of Niue. Extensive damage was done to forest, particularly of the north- western sector, with many trees up-rooted and others stripped of branches and foliage. This report details our findings from a survey of Niue's birds and rodents during 3-19 September 2004 and compares these with results from a similar survey in September 1994.

In June/July 2002 the eradication of Pacific rats from Maninita Island in the Vava'u group of the Kingdom of Tonga was attempted using Brodifacoum pellets in bait stations. In December 2002, Maninita was revisited and rat trapping carried out to determine if rats were present. While no rats were caught and none were seen, further monitoring in June 2003 is recommended before the island is declared "rat free '.