Cook Islands

The Government of the Cook Islands requested assistance from the US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Institute of Pacific Islands Forestry, to conduct a survey of invasive

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.

The Pacific islands of Oceania cover almost 15% of the world’s surface and are characterised by a high degree of ecosystem and species diversity. The region is characterised by thousands of isolated small coral atolls and higher volcanic islands, which has led to the high diversity of species found today. In fact, the number of plants and animals found nowhere else on earth (endemic species) is extremely high - often up to 90% for particular groups. Often, these rare and endemic species are adapted to specialised habitats and limited to small areas of a few islands.

Two Tiaea (Cuscutta) sites have been identified in Tupapa and Titikaveka. It is a destructive weed that can affect agriculture crops such as maniota, taro, etc.

An invasive plant that was recently introduced to the Cook Islands and only found on Aitutaki.