MNRE gets Creative in Saving Endangered National Bird

Hon. Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern with deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon Fiame Naomi Mataafa during launch of “Save the Manumea” campaign.

The Ministry of Natural Resource and Environment launched national campaign strategy, “SAVE THE MANUMEA” to address the endangered creature from being extinct.

The Minister of Natural Resource and Environment, and deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, Hon. Fiame Naomi Mataafa in her keynote speech highlighted the need to address the issue, as previous efforts seemly not effective. She stated that the new strategy will do more than raise awareness in Samoa.

The campaign aims at conveying its messages through creative artwork at specific locations, incorporate the message through schools, and adaptation means to ensure community gets better understanding of how to mitigate the risks to the endangered bird.

“The campaign being launched today(Saturday 27th July) is designed to do more than simply raise awareness of the Manumea, it will also ask all of us to reconsider changing the actions that many of us are still taking which put our national birds and other biodiversity at risk”, says deputy Prime Minister.

“Over the next 12 months the MNRE together with our partners will be implementing a range of “SAVE the MANUMEA” campaign activities, including more murals like this one, on six school around Samoa, including the MESC Wall (this is the Ministry of Education at Malifa) and the Samoa Shipping Corporation Wall at Salelologa wharf.”

Group photo during unveilling of the “Save the Manumea” mural. (image credit)

“Most importantly we’ll be working with our friendly villages to help them protect their forests, train their hunters on how to distinguish the Manumea from other pigeons, and not shoot them by accident.”

“Most importantly is trying to convince the general public that reducing hunting pressure on pigeons and in particular stopping the commercial trade in pigeons are only a couple of simple actions needed to save our national bird.”

The deputy Prime Minister further expresses the importance of the creature to the culture, heritage and Samoa’s ecosystem.

“Manumea has significant value for our culture and our heritage but many of our people will be unaware of this rather shy and cryptic bird that 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, with perhaps less than 200 birds left in the Samoan forest. There is also some poignancy that our Manumea is the last living relative of the Dodo, a bird at has been extinct since 1681 but remains an icon of global conservation efforts.”

“This tooth billed pigeon provides significant value for the natural ecosystems on which all Samoans depend. It uses its large beak to feed on large native seeds that cannot be eaten by other birds, by doing this it acts as a crucial seed disperser naturally restoring our native forests. For thousands of years, we coexisted quite happily with the manumea, although traditional pigeon snaring was one of distinguished sports among the high chiefs of Samoa”.

Mural on the east side wall of the New Zealand High Commission in Samoa. (image credit)

“But I suppose it’s the sustainability or the unsustainability of practices and the more modern hunting practices especially the shotgun has seen the very fast decline of this unique and special species. The manumea is also threatened, by the loss of, the deterioration of our native forests, the continuous hunting of pigeons (other pigeons), and flying foxes has also affected the manumea, where it is caught as bi-catch in the process. Despite the fact that national bans on hunting endemic birds has been in place for many years here in Samoa.

“Furthermore, the MNRE will continue all efforts to ensure the conservation and the sustainable management of its biodiversity and natural resources. Where certainly the Save the Manumea Campaign will be an important vehicle to strengthen these integrated efforts.”

The deputy Prime Minister also acknowledge all sponsors, organisations and everyone for supporting the programme. She also acknowledged the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Arderns, who was able to partake during the launching, through her transit to Tokelau.

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