13 Jul 2020

Focus goes on hunters to save Samoa's Manumea

1:40 pm on 13 July 2020

A campaign is about to be launched in Samoa to warn hunters about the threat they pose to the national bird, the Manumea.

The Manumea, which is a relative of the Dodo, has not been officially sighted in nearly three years.

Manumea, also known as the 'tooth-billed pigeon' or 'little dodo'.

Manumea, also known as the 'tooth-billed pigeon' or 'little dodo'. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Manumea conservation co-ordinator for the Samoa Conservation Society, Jane Va'afusuaga, said it's estimated there are about 150 to 200 birds now, down from about 4,000 thirty years ago.

She said habitat loss and environmental destruction by pests are often to blame, but so are hunters who, armed with shotguns, hunt the Lupe - a native pigeon - and kill the Manumea by mistake.

Leading up to White Sunday, which is in October, which is a traditional pigeon hunting time, we are really going to be working on social media, on TV, with an ad and a campaign about the problem of hunting the Lupe, or hunting the pigeon, and how that really has a detrimental effect on the Manumea.

This is part of a 10 year plan launched last month to save a bird that is found nowhere else in the world.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joined Samoa's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Natural Resources and Environment, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, for the launch in Apia in July last year.

Speaking at the launch, Fiame said the manumea had significant value for Samoa's culture and heritage.

"But many of our people will be unaware of this rather shy and cryptic bird which is now classified by the International Union of the Conservation of Nature as critically endangered and is on the red list of endangered species of 2018."