No bird protection zone in Tahanea

When we were in Tahanea (atoll in the Tuamotus) we were horrified to see that Copra production had started on some of the few remaining bird motus. Last year we had tried to convince the mayor of Faaite (the neighbouring atoll to which Tahanea belongs) to turn the southwestern motus into a protected zone. No success.
This year we met the family who owns and uses the motus in the South while they were there to collect, open and dry coconuts. We visited them a few times and tried to make friends. We made a list of why protecting the wildlife on their motus would be of advantage for them and how they could make much more money with alternative ideas than the little they get for copra, e.g.
-installing moorings next to the pass and charge for them (we would provide them with material and help with the installation
-organising excursions for tourists to the motus (snorkeling, bird watching)
-organising traditional meals for tourists
-building an eco-lodge sometime in the future
-etc., etc

After some intial hesitation the father and his three sons seemed genouinely interested and they promised to talk with their family once they had returned to Faaite and to contact us.

Last week the phone rang and we were excited–such quick news had to be good ones! Disappointment followed quickly when the father explained that his oldest son (whom we had not met) had decided that our plans and ideas were ‘for women’ while ‘real men make copra’. The destruction of natural vegetation and quiet habitats for many species of birds will go on for a few bucks…

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