Tongoa - Laika

Year of compilation: 2015

Site description
Tongoa is one of the Shepherd Islands off the Southeast coast of Epi.  It is of recent volcanic origin, but has no currently active volcano.  The site is centred around the village of Kurumabe, where there is an an active geothermal area that is used by Vanuatu Scrubfowl.  Laika is a small island rising to c40m asl, to the north of Tongoa that is owned, and harvested by the people from Kurumabe village

Key biodiversity
North Tongoa is known for its population of Royal Parrotfinch, and as a high density Vanuatu Scrubfowl egg-laying colony.  Laika is a large Wedge-tailed Shearwater colony.  In addition  small numbers of the pale Vanuatu Flying Fox roost on north Tongoa.  

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The Scrubfowl, Shearwaters and Flying Fox are all subject to harvesting.  The extent to which this has been, and will be in the future, sustainably managed is unclear.

Protected areas

Habitat and land use
In north Tongoa much of the area is forested, with large banyan vines providing considerable food for many bird species, with only small patches of land suitable for cultivation.  On Laika a semi-natural scrub vegetation predominates.  The soil here is very loose and friable - enabling the shearwaters to burrow, but also meaning that walking around on the island can result in the destruction of lots of burrows.

Land ownership
The community at Kurumabe own much of the land on North Tongoa and the island of Laika.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2019) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Tongoa - Laika. Downloaded from on 11/11/2019.