Rennell and Bellona

Country/Territory Solomon Islands
Area 850 km2
Altitude 0 - 100m
Priority urgent
Habitat loss limited
Knowledge poor

General characteristics

Politically part of the Solomon Islands, Rennell (or Mu Nggava, 825 km2) and the much smaller Bellona (or Mu Ngiki, 21 km2) are isolated islands in the south-west Pacific. Their nearest neighbours are Guadalcanal (part of EBA 198) and Makira (EBA 198), c.200 km to the north-east.

The greater part of Rennell is covered in lowland rain forest, though on Bellona there is virtually no forest surviving, the central plateau having been cleared for gardens and coconut plantations (Diamond 1991b, Buckingham et al. 1995). Rennell is one of the largest and highest raised coral atolls in the world, and its eastern half is covered by Lake Te Nggano, the largest lake in the Pacific.

Restricted-range species

All the restricted-range species are forest birds and most also occur in secondary habitats.

Rennell is recognized to have a most distinctive avifauna in relation to its size, for as well as five endemic species, it has four endemic subspecies of the more widespread restricted-range species, and a number of endemic subspecies of widespread Austro-Papuan birds. Bellona, on the other hand, being so much smaller, has a depauperate avifauna, but is included in the EBA because two of the restricted-range species which occur on Rennell, Ptilinopus richardsii and Lorius chlorocercus, have also been recorded there, and a number of subspecies of widespread Austro-Papuan birds are endemic to both Rennell and Bellona, illustrating their avifaunal affinities.

Species IUCN Category
Silver-capped Fruit-dove (Ptilinopus richardsii) LC
Yellow-bibbed Lory (Lorius chlorocercus) LC
(Geoffroyus heteroclitus) NR
Green Pygmy-parrot (Micropsitta finschii) LC
Cardinal Myzomela (Myzomela cardinalis) LC
(Gerygone flavolateralis) NR
Rennell Fantail (Rhipidura rennelliana) LC
Melanesian Flycatcher (Myiagra caledonica) LC
Rennell Shrikebill (Clytorhynchus hamlini) LC
Bare-eyed White-eye (Zosterops superciliosus) LC
Rennell White-eye (Zosterops rennellianus) LC
Rennell Starling (Aplonis insularis) LC

Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
IBA Code Site Name Country

Threat and conservation

In the past there have been plans to mine bauxite on Rennell (Diamond 1976) and also to develop a major logging operation, but none of these developments has come to pass, although there is a small milling operation to provide timber for local needs (Lees 1991). Most of the forest (90%) is undisturbed.

Current threats to the restricted-range species include hunting for food and sport by local people (children with catapults take a large number of small birds: B. W. Finch in litt. 1993), and capture of nestlings as pets which might perhaps contribute to the rarity of Lorius chlorocercus (Diamond 1991b). These threats are, however, relatively minor while the further introduction of exotic species (Pacific rats Rattus exulans and cats are already present) could be disastrous to the native avifauna. The restricted-range species are also at risk from natural causes owing to their small ranges and small populations: thus in a recent visit to Rennell, some species (e.g. Micropsitta finschii) were found to be scarce, and local people said that their numbers had been greatly reduced by a cyclone in 1992 (H. P. Webb in litt. 1996). Because of these various actual and potential threats, the three least-common endemic species are classified as Near Threatened.

There have been several recommendations in the past to establish a protected forest area on Rennell and World Heritage status is currently being investigated.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Rennell and Bellona. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 22/11/2019.