NES Senior Environment Officer and IIB project coordinator Mii Matamaki says 35 bait stations have been set up and the team has now finished its work.
Bait stations were set up during the day and the surveying of unga areas carried out after sunset.
The survey team consisted of three groups of four assessors, with each team responsible for baiting. At each site, 10 coconut baits were laid and the coordinates for mapping recorded for future comparison.
The team worked in a number of different unga habitats from the rugged makatea to areas covered with pandanus, utu and coconut trees. One of the toughest challenges the team faced last week was from wild pigs which were disturbing the coconut bait stations.
The unga survey project team consisted of NES Senior Environment officer and project coordinator Elizabeth Munro, technical advisor Reboama Samuel, NES Mauke officer Basilio Kaokao, and participants from Mauke, Mangaia and Atiu.
Matamaki says involving the Mangaia and Atiu participants was necessary as a similar coconut crab survey will be conducted on these two islands within the next year.
The unga survey project had the support of the island council and landowners and an area was set aside for conservation of unga for a period of 10 years.
The methodology of the survey was adapted from a similar project carried out in Niue by the SPC’s Ian Bertram.
Participants learnt how to measure the unga’s thoracic length as well as how to tell the difference between male and female coconut crabs.