Home Protecting the Tahiti Monarch

Protecting the Tahiti Monarch

he Tahiti Monarch or ‘Omama’o (Pomarea nigra), endemic to Tahiti, is listed as critically endangered.
In 1998, there were only 12 birds left on the island. Manu therefore organized its rescue through restless actions aiming at protecting the few nests against rats and other predators.
As of now, the count is up to 93 adult birds and 29 chicks survived their flight in the 2019-2020 season!


Before the arrival of Europeans, you could see this bird from seashore to the deepest valley of Tahiti. Its population has now dramatically decreased and our ornithological society has been monitoring it since 1998.
Black rats are the main cause of the rapid decline of the monarch population as they prey on the nests and prevent the adults from mating.
Unfortunately, rats are not the only threat.
Tahiti is full of introduced species that put either the breeding, the chicks or the adults in harm’s way.
Invasive birds, plants, goats and the Little fire ant raise a very concerning issue the survival of the monarch.

If you wish to help the Tahiti Monarch, please click here or contact us : by email (sop@manu.pf), by phone: +689 40 52 11 00  or on Facebook (Manu-SOP).


The Tahitian Monarch, a flycatcher, is critically endangered.
The Polynesian Ornithological Society (SOP-Manu) calls for your sponsorship.
Each monitored banded bird needs a sponsor who will receive information about his godchild. The sponsors will get updates after every field trip.


Common myna and Red-vented bulbul: invasive and aggressive species.


Since 1998, hundreds of rat-control stations have been set up throughout the areas sheltering monarchs. In 2009, our rat-control coverage doubled, including the higher Maruapo valley areas. We proceed through the use of traps and rodenticide.


Initiated in 2009, the first action was to scare away the invasive birds that were preying on the monarchs’ nests by shooting blanks, but it lacked efficiency. In 2012, a great help came from the Canary Islands. Susana Saavedra and her knowledge of invasive bird species allowed us to set up a network of traps for mynas and bulbuls in the coastal areas of the valleys. Within six months, about 2700 mynas and bulbuls were captured and removed from the nesting areas of the endangered Tahiti Monarch! One year later, a total of 5000 invasive birds were removed.

United to save the Tahiti Monarch


Every year, the individuals are identified, banded and the nests are monitored.
This fieldwork turns out to be quite challenging beyond the five waterfalls (10 to 20m high) blocking the entrance of the higher Maruapo.



Uprooting of Miconias and African tulip trees, rehabilitating the ‘Omama’o’s habitat.
Several campaigns involving volunteers were undertaken to eradicate these invasive plants from the valleys. The miconia is either uprooted or cut. A large glade has been created amongst the African tulip tree forest to start a nursery of indigenous trees.


Elementary schools of Papehue, Manotahi, 2+2 = 4 and Tiapa decided to help saving the Tahitian Monarch.
Lectures have been presented to more than a thousand children since the beginning of the program, field trips have allowed several hundred children to see the Monarch, nurseries of indigenous trees have been started and the classes of the schools of Punaauia and Paea compete for the Price of the best production of native trees and shrubs useful to the Monarch!
Mara (Nauclea forsteri Seem.), Faifai (Serianthes myriadenia), and Hitoa (Ixora setchellii) are names of trees that have been forgotten through generations; children are now growing them.

Children are recovering the ownership of their natural heritage, their environment and their culture.
We organised a drawing and poetry contest to create the information signs at the entrance of the valleys.


One way to raise people’s awareness on preserving the Tahiti Monarch is through the creation of strong community-based action groups. Invasive bird network is a prime example of a successful involvement of the population. Other significant actions were led such as building goat’s enclosure and plant nurseries, or receiving training in beekeeping. An exchange trip with the Takitumu Conservation Area of Rarotonga allowed the landowners of valleys in Tahiti to see and learn from what their Rarotongan cousins did to save the Rarotonga Monarch.


Even though the population declined between 2002 and 2012 (from 48 to 44 birds), there is hope. The number of birds leaving the nest has been increasing since 2009, going from 3 to 10 and more individuals per year. In 2019, the population reaches the number of 93 adults, and more than 35 couples are now protected.


The Polynesian Ornithological Society wishes to thank the French Polynesian Ministry of Environment (DIREN), the European Union, the French Government, BirdLife International (via Jensen Foundation) and the French Association of Zoological Parks (AFdPZ) for their financial support in 2016-2017.
Special thanks to the local sponsors: EDT-ENGIE, OPT, VINI and Intercontinental Resort & Spa Hotel for backing us up again this year.
The municipality of Punaauia is a valuable and unavoidable partner.
We are pleased to welcome the YUNE TUNG company in 2017, which is now also participating in the rescue program of the Tahiti Monarch.


Sponsors 2017 du Monarque de Tahiti


We want to express our gratitude to all the volunteers who come and help on the field.
The municipalities of Paea and Punaauia support us formidably and we wish to thank them especially.
At last, we want to thank all the valleys owners who accept our presence during the execution of the project.

On Saturday, October 8, 2016, at 5 pm, the magnificent murals of the Tahiti Monarch painted by Charles et Janine Williams took place in Fare Ute (Papeete – Tahiti) as part of the Ono’u 2016 Festival.
Our most grateful thanks to the artists for the realization of this extraordinary work. Charles, helped by his wife, did not spare his pain throughout the week of the festival, to present to the world the Tahiti Monarch, an emblematic species of French Polynesia.

Fresque Monarque de Tahiti©Christian Durocher

Painting Tahiti Monarch © Christian Durocher


Blanvillain, C., Ghestemme, T., Saavedra, S., Yan, L., Michoud-Schmidt, J., Beaune, D., & O’Brien, M. (2020). Rat and invasive birds control to save the Tahiti monarch (Pomarea nigra), a critically endangered island bird. Journal for Nature Conservation, 55, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnc.2020.125820

Blanvillain, C., Ghestemme, T., Withers, T., & O’Brien, M. (2018). Breeding biology of the Critically Endangered Tahiti Monarch Pomarea nigra, a bird with a low productivity. Bird Conservation International, 28(4), 606-619. https://doi.org/10.1017/S095927091700048X

Saavedra, S., Ghestemme, T. and Blanvillain, C. (2012) First control campaign for Acridotheres tristis and Pycnonotus cafer on Tahiti Island. PII newsl. 6: 34.

Ghestemme, T. (2011) Impact of introduced birds on Tahiti Monarch. PII newsl. 12: 4.

Blanvillain, C., Salducci, J. M., Tutururai, G. and Maeura, M. (2003) Impact of introduced birds on the Tahiti Monarch (Pomarea nigra), a critically endangered forest bird of Tahiti. Biol. Conserv. 109: 197205. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3207(02)00147-7