Kamaka Island, French Polynesia

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Kamaka Island, French Polynesia

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Host to some of the world's rarest birds

Kamaka is a small territory in the Gambier Islands of French Polynesia in the Southern Pacific Ocean. Despite its modest size – the island stretches across just one kilometer (0.6 miles) – Kamaka has historically been known for its abundance of seabirds, such as the Polynesian Storm Petrel, Tahiti Petrel and Murphy’s Petrel.

However, invasive rats inadvertently introduced by early settlers devastated the island’s seabird populations and destroyed the natural habitat. The negative impacts also affected the surrounding reef, not to mention the other islands that make up the rest of this spectacular archipelago.

Kamaka is visited regularly by the Reasin family who own and manage the island, which has a dedicated caretaker. Polynesians settled on the archipelago over a thousand years ago. Today, locals rely on subsistence farming, including fishing. This means that the health of their islands and the surrounding marine life is directly linked to food security and wellbeing.

A Voice from the Community

“Through the Island-Ocean Connection Challenge we hope Kamaka will become a stronghold for seabirds, including the threatened Polynesian Storm Petrel. These birds thrive on nearby rat-free islands, which benefits the surrounding reefs and ocean.”

– Thomas Ghestemme, Director, Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie (Manu)

The Project

Together with local partners Société d'Ornithologie de Polynésie (also known as “Manu”), the Reasin family, and the Magareva Community, IOCC partners have already completed an operation to remove invasive rats from Kamaka. With these predators removed, efforts to recover the endangered Polynesian Storm Petrel can begin. Social attraction methods, such as using Storm Petrel decoys and audio recordings of their natural sounds, will encourage the recolonization of the safe habitat. The return of Storm Petrels and other seabirds to Kamaka will restore essential nutrient flow from land and sea to benefit nearby corals, seagrasses and wildlife.

Project Partners & Funders

Birdlife International, CA Foundation on behalf of Jack and Carolyn Long, Envico Technologies, European Union (through the BEST2.0 program, Island Conservation, Société d’Ornithologie de Polynésie (Manu), The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Reasin Family, Wanderlust Fund, and other anonymous donors.

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