Employees of the Environment and Conservation Division within the environment ministry have confiscated 109 Santa Cruz Ground-doves from wildlife exporters after an attempt to smuggle them out of the country last year.
Deputy Director of the Environment and Conservation Division Josef Hurutarau said exporting the birds is banned under the Wildlife Protection and Management (Amendment) Act 2017.
The Santa Cruz Ground-dove, also known as Alopecoenas sanctaecrucis, is endemic to Solomon Islands and listed as an endangered species.
The birds have been found in parts of Temotu Province and Vanuatu, but rats and other pests caused their numbers to dwindle over the years.
Tinakula in Temotu Province is one place where the birds can still be found.
Mr Hurutarau said wildlife exporters caught the birds on Tinakula before the volcanic eruption on the island last year.
After the eruption, his office received reports that the birds there had been seriously affected.
“During the volcanic eruption, some NGOs working in the area suspected that their population might have been wiped out,” he said. “We found out that some have been kept in Honiara at the wildlife exporters’ facility, so we asked them to keep the birds to prevent them from becoming extinct.”
Mr Hurutarau said an expert from BirdLife International is providing food, medical treatment and other care for the birds at the quarantine area at Henderson in East Guadalcanal.
By Allen Waitara