Massif des Lèvres

Year of compilation: 2007

Site description
The Massif des Levres is located on the east coast, at Touho. It is a Massif that is difficult to access. It rises to 1,091 m with Katalupaïk and extends east along a ridge through the Tonine and ending twenty kilometers further east, on the Pwöbwacèn (809 m). The perimeter of the the IBA is a little behind the coastline to the north, and generally follows the Tipindjé River to the west and Tiwaka River to the south and east. The massive Tchingou (Higo) is not part of the IBA. This is one of the largest forests of the Northern Province, moreover, generally in good condition. It is a dense evergreen forest at low and medium altitude with high canopy, on average, ten meters sometimes reaches 15 meters. Its undergrowth is moderately dense. There are still some intact upland forests along the ridges and at the peaks. At its eastern end, the IBA is covered with an edaphic scrubland.

Key biodiversity
The Massif des Levres is home to 37 terrestrial species. Despite a large number of listening points in the IBA (123), no seabirds/marine life has been recorded as potentially breeding within the massif. 23 bird species with restricted distribution have been recorded within the IBA. There are 16 of the 19 endemic species visible on the mainland and 17 endemic subspecies in New Caledonia. The number of individuals contacted by listening point average is quite high at 27.9 individuals per point, while all endemic species have a higher occurrence at this site than the average for New Caledonia IBAs. The IBA is still home to the Cagou. An individual recorded on the south side of Tonina is the northernmost observation of this species in recent years. Another bird was heard to the east but mostly G. Hunt stated in 1992 that this was the region of the Northern Province where the species was most abundant - a statement that did not seem to be the case in surveys of all species during the IBA surveys of 2004-2005. We remain still cautious considering that these surveys were not intended to exhaustive inventory of populations Cagou and it emerges that the IBA survey approach is likely to undererestimate the numbers of the species. The Horned Parakeet was contacted on a third of the point counts performed on the whole massif. This places the IBA at the forefront for this species. The other species belonging to the endemic genus, the Cloven-feathered Dove (Drepanoptila holosericea) is also well represented. This IBA is also characterized by the strong presence (a third of the point counts) of the New Caledonian Cuckooshrike (Coracina analis) a mountain endemic recently defined as Near-Threatened.

Pressure/threats to key biodiversity
The identification of threats and planning of conservation issues on the IBA require further studies. The massif has not been exploited to date and has no known mineral resources. It is not subject to population growth. It remains fairly popular except near the most populous tribes, such as that of Bopope. Hunting, if it is practiced, does not seem to have a strong and widespread threat. However the existence of the northernmost population Cagou should lead to a lot of vigilance on this subject; including the need to address the problem of stray dogs and the use of hunting dogs in the last sanctuaries of the species. It is therefore important to quickly identify areas of Cagou presence and build awareness hunters to avoid overcrowding of these areas. The field survey has noted the presence of deer and pigs across the massif. The damage observed and caused by these introduced species on forests are attributed to pigs, considered more abundant than deer with the exception of the west end of the area where deer densities are high and where forest cover suffers damage caused by deer browsing intense ungulate. Fire is often as New Caledonia a serious threat to this massif whose foothills, as a result of being subjected to repeated fire action are now covered mainly savannah niaoulis'. Other actions to the conservation of the IBA are contained in the section on general recommendations.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Massif des Lèvres. Downloaded from on 03/12/2020.