Picture a remote island in the South Pacific, and then travel even further into oceanic isolation. Here, about 1,500 km south of Tahiti you will find Rapa Iti, an island that appears out of the water like the peak of sinking volcano in the southernmost reaches of French Polynesia. However, in an unfortunate similarity, the island’s wildlife is “going under”. Rapa and its nine islets are an Important Bird & Biodiversity (IBA)—with endangered bird species threatened by introduced non-native mammals—but Birdfair (and you!) are going to help save and restore this inaccessible Pacific paradise.
In 2017, Birdfair will be supporting the project “Saving Paradise in the Pacific”, raising funds for vital work to save endangered species from extinction. Here, invasive non-native species are decimating populations of native birds, including the Rapa Fruit-dove Ptilinopus huttoni (Endangered), Newell’s Shearwater Puffinus newelli and Polynesian Storm Petrel Nesofregetta fuliginosa, along with ten other threatened seabirds. Money from Birdfair will help BirdLife International and local partners restore the Rapa islets to their former glory.
Steve Cranwell, Manager for the BirdLife Pacific Island Restoration Programme
“On behalf of BirdLife, the BirdLife Partner the Ornithological Society of French Polynesia and the community of Rapa Iti, I extend a heartfelt thank you to the organisers and people of the British Birdfair.
It is with your support that we can begin to reverse the loss of a unique fauna and flora from this extraordinarily isolated Pacific Island. Renowned among Polynesian people for its abundance of seabirds, sadly, only a remnant now remain of the clouds of birds once said to have blocked out the sun.
Among the 12 seabird species that survive the Newell’s Shearwater Puffinus newelli and Polynesian Storm Petrel Nesofregetta fuliginosa are confined to inaccessible cliffs and predator free rock stacks. The removal of introduced rats and other mammals from the islets surrounding Rapa, will provide the secure habitat that these birds and other species so desperately need.
Together with the Rapa community we will prevent these and other invasive species from returning and as the islets recover so too will the heart of Rapa’s natural and cultural heritage by safeguarding the seabirds, Rapa Fruit Dove Ptilinopus huttoni, the many endemic landsnails and forest species that will have sanctuary there.
Accessing these islands including transporting people and equipment the 1500kms needed will be a logistical challenge. Your support will help us overcome this and we look forward to our journey together and sharing in the successes to come”