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Niuafo'ou (55 km2), an active volcano which last erupted in 1946, is the northernmost island in the Tongan archipelago, c.500 km north-east of Fiji (EBA 202) and c.300 km south-west of Western Samoa (EBA 203). Today the ridge of the crater surrounds a large lake, the inner slopes of which are mostly forested, as are the islands within the central lake. Villages and plantations are concentrated on the outer slopes of the crater in the north and east, and the western part of the island is characterized by dry open forest. Niuafo'ou is treated as a Secondary Area on account of its single-island endemic, Niuafo'ou Megapode Megapodius pritchardii; three central Polynesian restricted-range species also occur on the island (Purple-capped Fruit-dove Ptilinopus porphyraceus, Blue-crowned Lorikeet Vini australis and Polynesian Starling Aplonis tabuensis). The megapode has a small population (fewer than 1,000 birds) and a tiny range within the island (its habit of using hot volcanic ash to incubate its eggs confines its nesting sites to small areas of loose soil close to vents); it is considered threatened (classified as Endangered), mainly through predation by feral cats, egg harvesting, development plans and volcanic eruption; recently chicks and eggs have been released on the predator-free Tongan islands of Late (in the Vava'u group) and Fonualei (Secondary Area s130)-where the species is not known to have occurred naturally in historical times-with further transfers planned (Rinke 1986a,b, 1991, 1993).
Important Bird Areas (IBAs)
Threat and conservation
BirdLife International (2019) Endemic Bird Areas factsheet: Niuafo'ou. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 21/10/2019.