In Samoa, a village is banning shooting the country’s national bird, manumea, as part of an effort to save it from extinction.
The Samoa Observer reports Falealupo mayor Taofinu’u Lamositele saying he is happy the village’s efforts have been recognised, and it is now classified as “manumea friendly”.
“The whole village has been informed that nobody is allowed to shoot it but they have to take photos or record the bird when sighted,” Taofinu’u said.
The bird is called manumea because it is a shy bird. It has a colourful body with a distinct yellow beak.
The Manumea is a key symbol of Samoa’s natural heritage and it also helps to protect communities from the impacts of climate change. As a tooth-billed pigeon 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 the native forest.
Several surveys have confirmed its numbers as critically low. The number of Manumea may now be only 150 left in the wild. The last confirmed sighting of a Manumea was in Savai’i in August, 2020.
Explaining what he thinks are the reasons behind the birds being difficult to spot, the mayor said the manumea is selective in the types of other birds it mingles with or insects it eats. The manumea does not like a lot of birds and insects. The only birds it likes is the fiaui bird or white-throated pigeon,” he said.
“I have to remind people that our ancestors always preserved the forests, and that’s why Falealupo has a lot of forestry so we are familiar with these birds.”
He said now they work together with the Ministry of Environment and the Samoa Conservation Society to help look for the manumea.
The manumea, also known as the tooth-billed pigeon or Samoan dodo, is known to exist only in Samoa.