29 Dec 2014

Call to help save French Polynesia's native birds

7:50 am on 29 December 2014

BirdLife International is planning its single largest operation ever to eradicate introduced rats, cats, goats and rabbits, in a bid to save French Polynesia's dwindling native birds.

Its Pacific regional director, Don Stewart, says predators are driving declines in a number of birds, including the critically endangered Polynesian Ground Dove.

Mr Stewart says only two of French Polynesia's eight islands are predator free.

He says the group is raising money to hire boats, helicopters and equipment to ensure the operation, which has taken years to plan and will cost one million US dollars, goes ahead in 2015.

"Tahiti is the closest port, so we have to get about 100 tonnes of bait and a helicopter and various support vessels and crew and workers et cetera to the remote islands. That we estimate will take us about six weeks."

BirdLife's Pacific regional director, Don Stewart.