The recovered Kākerōri, also known as the Rarotonga Flycatcher. 20102351
The Kakerori Recovery Programme is an example of good conservation leadership, says local NGO Te Ipukarea Society.
the Kakerori was on the brink of extinction. Now, it’s one of the front-runners
in Te Ipukarea Society’s Bird of the Year contest! This was made possible
because of the Kakerori Recovery Programme, which is an example of good
Kakerori population was down to just 29 birds in 1989. Predictions at that time
were that the bird had a 90 per cent chance of becoming extinct by 2002 if
nothing was done. As a result of
concerted conservation efforts, Birdlife International downlisted the Kakerori
from being “critically endangered” in 1996 to “vulnerable” by 2012. This
decrease in threat ranking made the Kakerori one of just a few species to be
downgraded due to good management, rather than more of them being found than
efforts and results successfully demonstrate good conservation leadership
because they included: effective partnership-building with a shared vision;
management decisions informed by scientific evidence and innovative solutions.
important to note how partnership-building, stakeholder engagement, and a
shared, long-term vision contributed to the success of the Kakerori Recovery
were formed between local landowners, the Cook Islands Conservation Service
(now called the National Environment Service), Secretariat to the Pacific
Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), New Zealand Department of Conservation
(DoC), Te Ipukarea Society (TIS), the Atiu community, Air Rarotonga, and
the most crucial of these partnerships to be built was between the Government
and the three landowning tribes of the 155ha breeding area of the Kakerori –
Ngati Karika, Ngati Manavaroa, and Ngati Kainuku. To ensure that landowning
rights would not be jeopardised, the agreement to turn the land into a
conservation area was verbal and not legally binding. The area became known as
the Takitumu Conservation Area, and was a good example of genuinely engaging
landowners in conservation efforts.
Evidence based conservation
important component of successful conservation leadership is using scientific
evidence to inform decision making.
A 1988 study
concluded that introduced ship rats (Rattus rattus) were the main threat to
Kakerori eggs. This scientific evidence informed a draft plan for the recovery
of Kakerori, focusing mainly on activities to control the ship rat population,
with scientific studies to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of those
control activities included banding the trunks of nesting and adjacent trees
with aluminium to prevent ship rats from climbing to nests, and spreading rat
poison before and during the Kakerori breeding season. Annual population
surveys were also carried out to determine the success of the predator control
activities. The recovery plan was updated in 1995 and included an assessment of
the feasibility of starting an insurance population of Kakerori on Atiu, an
island with no ship rats.
there were 282 birds on Rarotonga - scientifically considered to be a viable
population - but because they were only found on one island, they were still
vulnerable to natural disasters like cyclones. This was proven when populations
declined again after five cyclones in a row hit the Cook Islands in 2005.
However, because monitoring and evaluation were part of the recovery plan, and
because conservation management decisions were made based on evidence from
this, the population decline was soon reversed.
a Masters assignment by Teuru Tiraa Passfield)