The Queens’ Lory

by Phil Bender  click through for further info

by Phil Bender click through for further info

The Rimatara lorikeet in French Polynesia has a wonderful conservation story

So many species of lory are endemic to tiny islands and even if locally abundant always stand the possibility of being wiped out with one fell swoop. The Kuhl’s or Rimatara is one of these species. And an amazingly beautiful one too.

About 100 years ago, the Queen of Rimatara forbade any harm be done to the remaining small population of Rimatara lorikeets (Vini kuhlii) which was frequently hunted for its feathers. Between humans and invasive rat species, the lory was struggling to survive and the Queen’s protection definitely helped them.

Flash forward to another Queen in present times. In 2007 the Queen of Atiu in the Cook islands gave the Rimatara lorikeet another helping hand. She and staff from the CRES from the San Diego Zoo accompanied 27 of the birds back to her Island, which had excellent habitat but where the lories had long ago disappeared. Since its reintroduction to Atiu, the Rimatara lorikeet (now referred to as Kura) has continued to do well and is even breeding on their new island home.

Two CRES field biologists will be back in Atiu in August to do a little research on what the little guys are up to.  I love conservation stories with happy endings!