In October 1999 a BP Conservation Programme expedition, in association with MANU (BirdLife in French Polynesia), discovered a population of the Polynesian Ground-dove Gallicolumba erythroptera, a Critically Endangered species. The expedition visited eight islands in the Tuamotu Archipelago, including five where the species had last been observed in 1922-1923, but on only one island were ground-doves observed. Significantly, this was the only island visited with no introduced predators or permanent human presence. It hosts the only known population of the ground-dove, a healthy population of the endangered Tuamotu Sandpiper Prosobonia cancellata and important populations of the near-threatened Atoll Fruit-dove Ptilinopus coralensis and vulnerable Bristle-thighed Curlew Numenius tahitiensis making it, without doubt, the most important island in the Tuamotu Archipelago for bird conservation.
A follow-up BP Conservation Programme expedition in 2000 will initiate urgent protection measures and management plans to conserve the Polynesian Ground-dove. During the next two years teams members, in association with MANU and others, aim to carry out research on the ecology of the ground-dove, protect the island from human disturbance, raise local awareness of the species and initiate a captive breeding programme on Tahiti to safeguard the species from extinction. Introduced predators will be eradicated from a suitable nearby island with the aim of translocating ground-doves there.
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