Manumea remains elusive

By Gutu Faasau 25 October 2023, 6:00PM

Samoa’s national bird has reached critically low numbers with approximately less than 200 in Samoa and the Samoa Conservation Society (SCS) remains hopeful in their continued search for the Manumea.

The Manumea, also known as the Tooth Billed Pigeon is critically endangered. SCS, in collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MNRE), have been conducting intensive surveys covering areas from Uafato to Falealupo. 

The 2023 Manumea search party of 14 people has been called off after 11 weeks of camping in the field and an unsuccessful attempt to sight any bird. 

They still remain hopeful and are more determined to continue the search next year. 

James Atherton, President of SCS said this is the reality Samoa is facing with its critically endangered bird on the verge of becoming extinct and they are sparing no efforts in trying to look for solutions to prevent the numbers from declining and to try and increase its population.

“The camera traps that we set up are activated by motion and it showed that there are a lot of cats in the remote bushes which is a concern,” he said. 

“It’s hard to say that that is the main cause. It is difficult to set the relative value of each threat because there are quite a few but that is definitely one of them.  

“Most of our observations are based on the call because it is cryptic, meaning that it is very hard to detect. Because it is shy and elusive. It is not easy to see it so we often identify based on the bird’s call but for many years we thought we knew the call.

"That was until a few years ago when we realised that the Lupe has an almost identical call and it is quite problematic.” 

Sefuiva Moeumu Uili is in charge of the Manumea work in SCS and has carried out a study on finding ways to differentiate bird calls so as to identify the bird easier.

They remain hopeful in achieving results in the coming year with better strategies such as captive breeding to increase the numbers but the first step is finding the birds.

Mr. Atherton said for next year, they will focus on fewer sites but will increase the duration of their survey and the search for the national bird. 

“The Manumea is about looking after our heritage from God and through this we can also raise awareness on saving all of our endangered species.”

By Gutu Faasau 25 October 2023, 6:00PM
Samoa Observer

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