Qelelevu Islands

Country/territory: Fiji

IBA Criteria met: -
For more information about IBA criteria please click here

Area: 163 ha

Protection status:

NatureFiji - MareqetiViti
Most recent IBA monitoring assessment
Year of assessment Threat score (pressure) Condition score (state) Action score (response)
2012 medium very unfavourable low
For more information about IBA monitoring please click here

Site description
The Ringgold Isles are an archipelago in Fiji, forming an outlier group to Vanua Levu. The Budd, Nukusemanu, and Heemskercq reefs form part of the group. The small sand cay islands such as Vetauua, Nukubasaga, Nukupureti, and Nukusemanu are uninhabited, while the larger Naqelelevu has a small village with extant residents. The Qelelevu group (Tauraria and Tainibeka) are mainly low, jagged limestone islets. In 1984, Fergus Clunie extensively surveyed the Ringgold group and documented the significant population of breeding seabird colonies. The largest of the six Ringgold Sslands is Naqelelevu inside a vast barrier reef known as Qelelevu reef. Its approximate area is 147 hectares with maximum elevation of 18 meters above sea level. Naqelelevu is the only islands in the Northern Ringgold group known to be inhabited thirty years ago with one small village. It is also the only island in the northern Ringgold groups with two lakes as a hydrological feature probably attributed to its size and topography. Naqelelevu is a low limestone islet, the jagged rocks “maketea” at the east and north-east coast fringed by a reef. The middle of the island is all comprised of “makatea”, clad with scrubby bush. A plateau along the southwest coast is covered in thick bush and coconuts. Adjacent to Naqelelevu, separated by a thirty meter narrow channel known as Nadomodomo is Tui-ni-beka Islet which is very much treated as part as Naqelelevu apart from the fact that it has very little disturbance due to its harsh “maketea” topography. This island supported a large number of nesting and roosting seabirds and is covered with scrubby bush and other littoral forest species. Within the same reef system separated by narrow channel of approximately 0.60 nautical miles northwest of Qelelevu is eleven hectare island of Tauraria as part of Naqelelevu atoll islands supporting a high diversity of seabirds. Tauraria is also a low, upraised and jagged limestone islet covered in dense but scrubby bush.

Key biodiversity
In 1985 a survey of Naqelelevu reported breeding Red-footed and Brown Boobies on coastal fringes around Nadomodomo channel. Common Noddies were also nesting on the northwest side of the island in P. tectorius and coconut crowns (Jenkins 1986). Clunie (Jenkins 1986) also discovered that Tui-ni-beka and Tauraria had the same breeding species as on Naqelelevu apart from the Black-naped Terns that bred on rock outcrops near Tauraria. Subsequent surveys took place in 2007, 2008 and 2010 (Jit et al. 2007, Seniloli et al. 2009, BirdLife International 2010).

Non-bird biodiversity: The area supports globally and regionally significant populations of marine turtles, humpback whales, seabirds and semi-nomadic reef fish, and may hold concentrations of cold-water corals. The site is the main foraging areas for Fiji‘s most significant nesting sites for hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricate Critically Endangered) and green turtles (Chelonia mydas, Endangered). Taveuni, the third-largest island in Fiji is located next to a major shipping passage and some of the most significant soft coral walls in the country.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Important Bird Areas factsheet: Qelelevu Islands. Downloaded from on 25/01/2021.