The New Zealand High Commission has committed to support the work done by the Samoa Conservation Society with a grant of $30,000.
Acting New Zealand High Commissioner, Nick Hurley made the announcement as he launched the “Mose and the Manumea” book at the Le Manumea Hotel in Vailima yesterday.
The book contains illustrations and scientific facts of native species in Samoa, and it talks of a boy who is searching for the manumea – Samoa’s iconic bird that is on the verge of extinction.
“This is an appropriate occasion with the launch of the book on the manumea to announce our support for the work of the Samoa Conservation Society, which is an amazing and inspiration work as well,” Mr. Hurley said to the Samoa Observer.
“This is an iconic bird, and we understand and sympathise with Samoa because in New Zealand we have the same problem around the Kiwi and other birds. Like Samoa, New Zealand was a bird country before any other human settlement.”
Samoa Conservation Society Environmental and Geographic Information System Specialist, James Atherton said the fund will be used to support the first step of raising awareness of the manumea bird.
“It (fund) will support the finalisation of the manumea awareness campaign, which we have been working on for a year, particularly to control hunting, which is one of the main threats to the national bird of Samoa,” Mr. Atherton said.
“We also want to have a workshop early next year with stakeholders, communities, hunters as well as the government ministries and the non-government organisations, to talk about how we can implement the work, which is the most important part of any campaign.
“We’ve already got some support from the Auckland Zoo to help with the implementation of the campaign and we will be looking for support from other donors. The fund announced today (yesterday) will be used for the finalisation strategy of the campaign.”
Mr. Atherton said to protect native species, one needs to tackle it from multiple angles.
“So we’re doing predator management, we started that in Malololelei with New Zealand Government support, and we continue that. But the campaign is focused more on awareness of the manumea because it is a very unusual bird, and it is related to the dodo, which is the icon of extinction; so Samoa has a very special bird.”
He also emphasised that the consultation phase of the awareness project is crucial to getting the approval of the community for implementation purposes.
Mr. Atherton acknowledged the support of the New Zealand High Commission and has called on the public to value our biodiversity.
“The bird manumea is only one species, but we want to protect the national bird of Samoa, and so by doing that we also want to protect our native species, not only because they are beautiful, but because they are also unique.”