George Mateariki (mostly known as ‘Birdman George’) offers education tours of endangered bird species that include the Rarotongan Flycatcher (Kakerori) and the endangered Rimatara Lorikeets. George is a volunteer at the Takitumu Conservation Area in support of the recovery programme of these endangered birds that are found on Atiu Island.
Due to ship rat attacks that were disturbing the bird population, the Kakeroris were relocated from Rarotonga, and George volunteers part-time to trap ship rats at the island entry points. The Kakerori and Rimatara Lorikeets have since then been breeding successfully. George also offers tours to visitors as part of the Birdman George Eco Tours. This raises awareness and supports both the Kakerori recovery programme and the Mynah bird eradication project .
In 2016, George was recognized by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF) as one of the 15 ‘Hotspot Heroes’ for outstanding conservation efforts from around the globe. This was attributed to his work in managing and protecting these native and endangered bird species. To learn more about this, click here.
Birdman George also offers in-depth tour of Atiu that includes exploring beaches and ancient trails, education of different flora, a picnic and of course bird watching. He has been involved in these tours and bird conservation activities for 23 years.
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Photo Credit – Cook Islands Tourism Corporation