Project for further research on the Manumea

“Conservation of the Manumea” Project aims to save Samoa’s national bird which is on the verge of extinction.

The project is by the Samoa Conservation Society (S.C.S) and coordinated by Sefuiva Moeumu Uili who has done research about the Manumea bird for the past few years.

She told the Samoa Observer in an interview on Thursday that it is a project they are working on with partners such as Auckland Zoo Conservation Trust Fund and Bird Life International. 

Sefuiva stated that the Manumea is a unique and significant bird on the verge of extinction.

They have been supporting the work of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E) and assisted the Government in the development of the 10 year Manumea Recovery Plan that was launched last year.

“This project we are now working on with our partners including the MNRE, the main focus is to find the bird. The last sighting that we had was last year in Aopo forest,” she said.

“So that was last sighting we had of an adult.”

They had also heard calls and recorded it, suspecting that it was the Manumea. These were sent to scientists in Germany who confirmed the calls belonged to other pigeon species.

“The only photograph that we took was back in 2013, so with this project the immediate aim is to find the bird and get a photo of it,” she said. 

She said that some of the broad research she will be doing includes more research into the acoustic analysis “Coo” calls of the Manumea, and finding the bird's nest.

When asked about the project’s likely success, she said: ”It’s hard work to do. It’s not an easy project to work on.” 

“We are talking about critically endangered species, you’re talking about years of research but we are relying on data collected from the past years from some of the scientists who we’ve been working closely with and some of the surveys that we did on bird monitoring,” she said.

Sefuiva stated that it requires a lot of effort in the field, a lot of camping days to find the bird and there are many days where they come back with nothing.

She added that their hope is to find the bird and they need the support of the community to help them in finding the bird. 

“The last estimate from all the surveys that’s been conducted by researchers and scientists, it is suspected that we have about 250 to 400 birds but it could be less than that,” she said. 

She said that one aim of the research project is to be able to come up with an update of that estimate. 

When asked about the possibility of a bird sanctuary in Samoa, she said that it had been in discussion and that the key thing they had to consider for that project is the funding. 

“Let’s say that if we find it, what would be our next move? Will we capture or just record take photo and let it go? These are all the discussions that we are doing, we’re still exploring options with the available resources that we have,” she said. 

“To capture the bird in the wild is also another specialised skill that is required, one that we also don’t have. So all these different activities need to be in place to support this having this facility in Samoa.” 

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