How one tiny island is rallying to save a critically endangered parrot
Only 1,500 Rimatara lorikeets remain in the wild. On one French Polynesian island, residents fight to preserve lorikeet habitat and combat invasive rats.
Rimatara, French PolynesiaEvery day at sunrise on the small French Polynesian island of Rimatara, Tiraha Mooroa goes for a run with Koha the dog. Koha, a scruffy border terrier mix, has an important job: to sniff out and kill any black rats he can find.
Koha is the island’s only defense against the invasive rodents. Keeping the island rat-free is vital: the rats, which arrive via boats and cargo ships, are the single biggest threat to native birds of the Pacific Islands. They’re extremely adept at finding nests and preying on eggs.
One species is especially important: the Rimatara lorikeet, a beautiful, crimson-chested bird with a green and blue crest. Endemic to Polynesia, the lorikeet is critically endangered—only 1,500 remain in the