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Fiji Time: 3:01 PM on Friday 18 April

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Cats major threat to Collared Petrels

Dawn Gibson
Wednesday, January 15, 2014

FOR the first time in the history of bird monitoring in Fiji, trail cameras have been installed to track and observe the situation of one of Fiji's most threatened birds — the Collared Petrel.

And since the installation of the cameras, NatureFiji-MareqetiViti has been able to keep track of the safety of the birds, particularly against one of their biggest threats — feral cats.

"Fiji is the home of the largest number of Collared Petrels in the world, it is a threatened species which is currently categorised as 'vulnerable' on the red list," reported NFMV executive trustee and ornithologist Dick Watling.

"The Fiji Petrel Project has been researching and conserving Collared Petrels on Gau for the past seven years and has realised the very serious threat posed by feral cats predating Collared and presumably Fiji Petrels."

Mr Watling explained that the project was currently monitoring a total of 88 nesting burrows on Gau and that the cameras confirmed the cats were a major threat which needed to be removed from the island.

"The project recorded the remains of 12 cat-predated Collared Petrels during the 2013 breeding season. With only 42 active nests documented in 2013, that is a very heavy mortality for the population to bear.

"This year the project has installed the trail cameras to record activity at nests, cat traps and other research sites."