Mar 31, 2012

Weather Situation at Matava, March 2012

A message to all friends and families of the Paradise Dive Group and other guests staying with us.
All of our guests are safe and well.
Many of our guests are attempting to contact their loved ones at home.
You may contact any of our guests via email at if you wish to call you may call on +679-603-0685.
We will continue to put up posts as information comes to hand.
The guests staying at the resort may be here for a couple of more days, depending on when flights can depart Nadi and land in Kadavu.
See also our Twitter feed and Facebook page for instant info.

Weather Situation at Matava, March 2012 | Matava - Fijis Premier Eco Adventure Resort:

BirdLife Pacific Invasive Species Programme

BirdLife Pacific Invasive Species Programme
A recent meeting in Auckland finalised project activities which include eradicating rodents (in French Polynesia, Palau, and the Cook Islands) and controlling pigs and deer (in New Caledonia) within areas of high conservation value.
The BirdLife Pacific Partnership has started a new four-year European Union funded regional Invasive Species programme which seeks to reduce the spread and the environmental and socio-economic impact of invasive alien species by supporting the eradication and control of invasive alien species and also enhancing biosecurity.
BirdLife Partners involved in the programme are Te Ipukerea Society (Cook Islands), Palau Conservation SocietyNatureFiji-MareqetiVitiO Le Si’osi’omaga Society Inc. (Samoa), Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie (French Polynesia) and Société Calédonienne d’Ornithologie (New Caledonia).
The Programme is also supported by a Technical Advisory Group which recently met in Auckland and includes the Pacific Invasives Initiative (PII), the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, University of the South Pacific, NZ Landcare Research and the NZ Department of Conservation.
The meeting finalised project activities which include eradicating rodents (in French Polynesia, Palau, and the Cook Islands) and controlling pigs and deer (in New Caledonia) within areas of high conservation value. In Fiji the programme will develop biosecurity models targeting the non-native American Iguana, mongoose and the Brown Tree Snake.
The meeting also identified the capacity, research, and monitoring needs for the programme. Among the research opportunities include support for a post graduate student to examine the social, economic and or biological impact of managing invasive alien species or related element of the programme.
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BirdLife Pacific Invasive Species Programme

Mar 24, 2012

Fiji Bird Watching

Fiji’s large variety of birds, including 27 species that are indigenous to Fiji and can be found nowhere else in the world, make the islands excellent for bird watching. Altogether there are approximately eighty species of freshwater and terrestrial birds, of which ten have been introduced. Areas that are most recommended for bird watching in Fiji are forests and far inland areas.

The Fijian islands where you are most likely to glimpse the largest number of birds are Viti Levu, which is home to 56 of the 81 known species found in Fiji, Taveuni and Kadavu. The larger islands tend to have more and vaster areas of nature that are untouched by humans, which makes the larger birds, mostly the parrots and pigeons, more easily visible.

Largest and Most Popular Birds in Fiji

The largest bird found in Fiji is the reef heron, which can be found on coastal and in the very interior of the largest islands. It feeds on small fish and other marine animals.

The most easily seen and well-known of the larger Fijian birds are the yellow and red-breasted musk parrots, which get their name from their distinctive musky odor. Small flocks of these birds can often be seen flying around or perching on the coconut trees in Taveuni and the other larger islands. Taxi drivers on these islands may also offer to capture one of these parrots and sell it to you, as they are popular pets for locals and can be sold to visitors on the sly, despite the fact that capturing and keeping these birds as pets is illegal.
The Kadavu mask parrot is another popular bird and is now a protected species. Its native habitat is Kadavu, though it can be found in other areas of Fiji as well.


goshawkThere are three species of hawks that inhabit Fiji. Out of these, the most common is the swamp harrier, which is most often seen over the grasslands, swamps and forested areas. Its main diet consists of birds, rodents and occasionally snakes. The Fiji goshawk lives on coastal and inland areas of Fiji and feeds on insects, lizards and other birds. The peregrine falcon, which can reach speeds of over 320 kmh (200 mph) in a dive, making it the fastest animal in the world, is also found in Fiji. However, it is pretty rare to catch a glimpse of this bird on the islands.

doveFiji is home to several species of doves as well. The most common one is the introduced spotted turtle dove, which is also the most destructive as it eats and destroys fruit crops. The most sought after dove by birders in Fiji is the orange dove because of the male’s bright orange-colored plumage, with the exception of its olive green-colored head. This bird can be found in Taveuni, Vanua Levu and some of the other offshore islands, but it is so rarely seen that it is quite difficult to even come by a photo of it in any book. The peale’s pigeon emits a barking noise that sounds much more like a dog rather than a bird, so it can deceive people when they hear it near or inside a rainforest.

Other Birds
kingfisherA few other species of birds that can be seen in Fiji include the white-collared kingfisher, which is striking blue in color with a white collar-like design around its neck, and the Silktail, which has become increasingly rarer on the islands, most likely as a result of logging.
The Indian myna, which is much less exotic, was introduced to Fiji in the late 19th century to feed on sugarcane pests. It is aggressive and noisy, but intelligent, in nature and can be spotted throughout the islands. Another similar bird, the jungle myna, was introduced in the early 20th century to control army worm populations. It is usually found in the countryside and is often perched on the backs of cattle.

Birds in Viti Levu, Taveuni and Kadavu

If you are visiting any of the three main “bird” islands in Fiji, the following are some of the species of bird that you may be able to observe on each island:
Viti Levu
  • Yellow-Breasted Musk Parrot
  • Pink-Billed Parrot Finch
  • Long-Legged Warbler
  • Golden Dove
  • Black-Faced Shrikebill
  • Orange Dove
  • Silktail
  • Red Shining Parrot
  • Crowned Flycatcher
  • Peale’s Pigeon
  • Red and Yellow-Breasted Musk Parrots

Fiji Bird Watching

Mar 17, 2012

Invasive species Cast Away in Fiji

Invasive species Cast Away in Fiji

Rats were eradicated by spreading specially formulated rodent bait using a helicopter (Credit: BirdLife International Fiji Programme).
Goats and rats have been removed from two Fijian islands in a joint operation conducted by BirdLife International’s Fiji Programme and the National Trust of Fiji aimed at protecting unique wildlife on Monuriki and Kadomo. “This is a massive achievement which will provide benefits for the iguanas, birds, plants and people of these islands”, said Sialesi Rasalato from  BirdLife International.
The Mamanuca island chain is a well-known tourist destination and nationally important for some unique and threatened wildlife. The islands of Monuriki and Kadomo are among Fiji’s most critical islands for burrowing seabirds and endemic iguana.
Monuriki was the location for the Tom Hanks film Cast Away which depicts his successful attempts to survive on the island following a plane crash. In real life, the 41 hectare island is home to less than a hundred Critically Endangered Fijian Crested Iguana Brachylophus vitiensis which are found on only a few islands, in the dry western side of the Fijian archipelago. Both Monuriki and Kadomo also provide vital habitat for nationally significant breeding colonies of Wedge-tailed ShearwaterPuffinus pacificus. Thousands of the fish-eating seabirds have excavated burrows across the islands in which to rear their chicks, and can be heard making their strange ‘baby-crying’ calls after dark.
In 1999 and 2003, the National Trust of Fiji surveyed a few islands in the Mamanuca Group detecting a rapid decline in the iguana population as a result of major habitat degradation by goats. In 2009, BirdLife International undertook surveys that showed that rats and goats were also posing severe threats to  the breeding seabirds on both islands.
Introduced by humans and alien to Fiji, rats eat many life forms including eggs, seeds, and insects, whilst goats eat all plants within reach and trample fragile seabird burrows. Together these pests have substantially altered the ability of native plants and animals to exist on the islands and, if left unchecked, would lead to the loss of many including the shearwaters and iguanas. “Most documented extinctions, and present causes for decline among Pacific island birds, are the result of invasive alien species like rats and goats”, said Elenoa Seniloli of BirdLife International.
To deal with these threats, the National Trust of Fiji and BirdLife International carried out an intensive and complex operation to rid the two islands permanently of goats and rats. For the goats, those that could be mustered and caught – by the local Yanuya Rugby Team – were taken to the mainland, while all remaining animals were later eliminated by professional hunters from New Zealand using trained sniffer dogs. The rats were eradicated by spreading specially-formulated rodenticide from a helicopter in a hi-tech procedure using GPS equipment and a specifically designed spreader bucket which could calibrate required bait-drops. If no sign of either pest are detected after two years, Monuriki and Kadomo islands will be officially declared rat and goat-free.
It’s now vitally important that these alien creatures don’t return, and project partners are calling for all visitors to check their boats and equipment for unwanted stowaways before landing on the islands. “It has taken years of preparation and work to rid these introduced pest animals from Monuriki and Kadomo, and a careless visitor could bring them back in a day”, said Jone Niukula of the National Trust of Fiji.
“We ask visitors to be especially careful”, added Joeli Vadada – landowner and National Trust of Fiji Volunteer Ranger for Monuriki Island. “Visitors to the islands need to check everything before they go ashore for stowaway seeds, lizards, rodents and insects.”
BirdLife is now developing a bio-security programme that will provide further information and training to the Islands communities and tourist operators, enabling them to prevent pests from getting back to the Islands. “We also intend to work with the landowners in developing projects that enable them to benefit from the islands natural resources in a sustainable way such as through eco-tourism”, noted Mrs Seniloli.
This is the 12th successful island restoration programme completed by the BirdLife International Fiji Programme. With over 300 islands in Fiji there are many opportunities to eradicate unwanted pests and improve the future for biodiversity and people.
The planning, consultations, financing, technical assistance and implementation of the goat and rat operations have required numerous partnerships within Fiji and around the world. In communicating the project’s success, BirdLife International and the National Trust of Fiji acknowledge that this result would not have been possible without the efforts of many, including Nadroga/Navosa Provincial Council, the Fiji Department of Environment, the Fiji Police Force, Biosecurity Authority of Fiji, Mamanuca Environment Society, the Pacific Invasives Initiative, Ross Wharfe, Luke Robertson, New Zealand Department of Conservation, skilled hunters, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, the UK Darwin Initiative, Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, Aage V. Jensen Foundation and European Community and the landowners of Monuriki and Kadomo Mataqali Vuna-i-vi and Mataqali Namatua, Taukei Yanuya, and the village of Yanuya (Koro ko Yanuya).
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Invasive species Cast Away in Fiji

Mar 10, 2012

Avian matchmaking on Valentine’s Day

Avian matchmaking on Valentine’s Day
BirdLife's Dr Mark O'Brien tests the speakers for Vatu-i-ra island, Fiji.
Two staff from the BirdLife Fiji Programme and the Pacific Secretariat gave up any amorous intentions of their own on Valentine’s Day to try a little avian matchmaking.
Together with volunteers from the Vatu-i-ra Site Support Group (SSG), the team spent three days on Vatu-i-ra Island, Fiji, installing a solar-powered sound system designed to broadcast the calls of several threatened seabirds in a bid to attract them back to the island.
“We’re very excited to be contributing to the conservation of one of Fiji’s rarer species,” said Sione Gonewai of the Yavusa Nagilogilo, also Chair of the Vatu-i-ra Site Support Group.
“As the owners of Vatu-i-ra our community recognises our role as custodians of the site. We’ve been working to protect the island, its seabirds and the marine environment upon which they depend for a number of years.”
In 2006 with the local community BirdLife undertook a successful eradication of Pacific rats, accidentally introduced by people many centuries before. Introduced mammals have been the number one driver of bird extinctions and their impact has been particularly severe in the Pacific. However, thanks to a great deal of hard work across the BirdLife Pacific Partnership a number of islands around the region have now been cleared of invasives.
These sites are acting as safe havens for many species and Vatu-i-ra is no exception. The island supports internationally significant populations of several noddies, terns and boobies; and already since the eradication survey teams have recorded encouraging signs of regeneration such as an apparent increase in the number of ground-nesting birds like Crested and Bridled Terns – those that are most susceptible to predation.
Now the aim is to take full advantage of this site by establishing the first colony of Collared Petrels at a predator free location.
“Our mammal free islands are huge assets”, said Sialesi Rasalato, BirdLife’s Fiji Programme Conservation Officer. “Now we’re really looking to join all the dots and maximise the potential these sites have for conservation”.
Petrels are the most threatened group of seabirds in the tropical Pacific having suffered historical declines owing to both overharvesting of adults and chicks for food and the negative impact of invasive mammals. Collared Petrel was uplisted to Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List in 2011 because available evidence suggests its global population probably numbers fewer than 10,000 individuals and it is experiencing an ongoing decline. Although surveys last year discovered that the species still occurs on a number of islands around Fiji, they also found invasive mammals present at all sites.
Remote playback has proven itself to be an enormously successful tool in New Zealand and elsewhere for attracting threatened seabirds to breed at specific sites. In this case, selecting a predator-free island offers the chance of establishing a colony of a very rare species where one of the major threats has been removed. The speaker system can run for up to five years, switching on every night to broadcast calls and turning itself off again to recharge in daylight. As well as the sound system the team has installed 20 artificial nesting burrows to encourage the first birds in.
“Collared Petrel is an obvious target, but we’re looking to benefit a number of Fiji’s rare and threatened seabirds like Tahiti Petrel and Polynesian Storm-petrel,” commented Sia Rasalato.
2012 marks the start of a real push for petrel conservation in Fiji. NatureFiji-MareqetiViti are continuing their searches for petrel burrows with specially trained dogs on Gau, and have just installed a playback device to begin attracting birds to artificial burrows where they can be effectively monitored and protected. The BirdLife Fiji Programme and the Nabukelevu site support group on Kadavu are also beginning a similar project.
BirdLife would like to acknowledge all of its donors who have supported the important work described here: The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Aage V. Jensen Charity Foundation, the Pacific Seabird Group, the Crowder Messersmith Conservation Fund and Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund.

Avian matchmaking on Valentine’s Day