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Less Than 125 Tropical Kingfishers Left

A colorful tropical bird called the Tuamotu Kingfisher lives on just one very small island in the South Pacific, and is down to less than 125 individuals. They live on the island of Niau in French Polynesia, which is several hundred miles from Tahiti. In 1974 there may have been as many as 600 of them, but their numbers have dropped since then. They are threatened by rats, feral cats and storms which remove trees where they nest. They eat insects and lizards, and nest in dead coconut trees.

niau

In 2002 the human population of Niau was 136. An education program has been implemented to make coconut farmers aware of the dire situation facing the kingfishers, so their nests are not as vulnerable to disturbances from humans. Various measures are being taken on Niau to help the critically endangered birds survive. A University of Missouri researcher, Dylan Kesler said “Unfortunately, even with all our work to date, the population is still crashing. We’re seeing some turnover, but each year when we return, there are more empty territories and the population decreases. At this rate, these birds will be gone within our lifetime.” (Source: Sciencedaily.com)

kingfisher

Another conservation measure may be required – that of translocation – or moving a smaller portion of the whole population to a nearby island with a habitat most similar to the one on Niau. The islands of Anaa and Makatea are under consideration. This strategy is also challenging as capturing the small, fragile birds could harm them physically or cause high stress. Also, there is no guarantee they will stay in a new location or adapt to it readily. A last resort may be a captive breeding program, but of course that also means running the risk of harm when capturing takes place. If you want to  do something to help this bird, you can join BirdLife’s program for preventing bird extinctions.

Image Credits: Dylan Kesler, University of Missouri

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76 comments

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10:09AM PDT on Jun 16, 2011

Sad that these are going to die too. The animals left after the Animal-Human war will repopulate the earth, and take care of it.

7:40AM PDT on Jun 15, 2011

noted

5:36PM PDT on Jun 9, 2011

They are cute and they will survive!

1:22AM PDT on Jun 7, 2011

Beautiful birds. Hope they can be saved.

11:04AM PDT on Jun 2, 2011

beautiful birds !

9:54AM PDT on Apr 8, 2011

It is so sad how our beautiful creatures are becoming extinct, all due to man. Thank you for sharing.

9:36AM PDT on Apr 2, 2011

thanks for this post

1:38AM PDT on Apr 1, 2011

Good article

12:27PM PDT on Mar 29, 2011

I try to plant a tree every year in celebration to nature. I go along an area which is not far from a river we have here and plant a fruit tree for the birds. I then let nature take its course. I take walks and delight in the birds enjoying the fruit of my labour.

3:02AM PDT on Mar 29, 2011

Hope ! Let us hope that all these beautiful birds will be there till eternity! Let us plant more trees and save the forests and conserve the water and hope for a miracle!

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