Cook Islands

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.

Common mynas have been introduced (often as biocontrol for insects) or colonised many islands in the Pacific. They are one cause of decline in some native bird species such as endemic kingfishers, and are a pest when they damage fruit and compete for food to put out for domestic animals.

During a survey of the birds of the Cook Islands from July-September 1973, the birds of the islands of Atiu, Mitiaro, Mauke and Mangaia were investigated for the first time. Series of seven land birds that apparently represent undescribed forms were collected. This paper gives descriptions of these forms, in advance of a fuller report on their biology and that of the other birds seen.

During a visit to the Cook Islands, my wife and I spent 5 days (30 August to 3 September 1980) on Aitutaki, where we made a concerted effort to determine the composition and status of the birdlife.