Megapode Conservation Programme for Ambrym
The Megapode Conservation Programme is designed to secure a future for the Vanuatu Megapode on Ambrym and ensure local people will be able to continue to benefit from the collection of eggs in the years ahead.
Project Description

The Vanuatu Megapode bird Megapodius layardi is endemic to Vanuatu, officially classified as vulnerable by BirdLife International and highlighted as a priority species for conservation in the Megapode Action Plan 2000-2005. The population on Ambrym is widely believed to be one of the most significant anywhere and the evidence presented to VPAI by local people indicates that the population is in decline because of habitat loss and increasing levels of local exploitation.

The programme was initiated in 1993 when a High Chief approached the Melanesia Forest Expedition for assistance in protecting an important population on Northwest Ambrym, which he believed was in rapid decline. Since that time a number of surveys have been undertaken to address the present lack of scientific data. Work has also been undertaken to raise the profile of the species at the village level and develop locally appropriate conservation strategy with local leaders and landowners.

A lack of funding and a shortage of suitably skilled and experienced fieldworkers have hampered the programme, but significant progress in improving our knowledge of the species and developing local conservation measures has been made. Notable advances were made in 2001 thanks to the work of Wan Smol Bag and Wuhuran Theatre in producing and touring with a Megapode awareness drama. A visit by an international team of specialist in October 2001 also moved the scientific study significantly further forward and generated a renewed interest in the programme from community leaders. (Click here for Oct 2001 report)

There is still a major deficiency of data with which to assess the conservation requirements of the species and there is an obvious and urgent need for further scientific work to help ensure that appropriate and realistic conservation measures can be applied. Further work is also needed at the village level to facilitate further dialogue between all parties concerned about the future of the Vanuatu Megapode on Ambrym and develop a widely accepted conservation plan that can be effectively implemented by local people.

Objectives for 2002/3

1. To facilitate a constructive dialogue between all parties concerned with the future of the Vanuatu Megapode on Ambrym and organise a forum where progress towards an agreement on a realistic and widely accepted conservation plan can be made.

2. To develop and follow a new survey methodology for assessing and monitoring the population levels and density of the Megapodes on Ambrym and undertake further scientific research into the species general ecology with a view to assisting the conservation process.

3. To further explore the possibility of establishing some form of protected area at Bowoma/Tebi and lake Fangteng in accordance with the wishes of the landowners and local communities.

Notes on Implementation

The programme is currently being coordinated by Roy Hills from VPAI and Wan Smol Bag Theatre. It is being implemented in partnership with local chiefs, landowners and the Loru Environment Centre.

For further information, please contact: Roy Hills, VPAI, 25 Chestnut Walk, Welwyn, Hertfordshire, AL6 0SD UK Email:

A volunteer is currently required to help achieve objective two. Please click here for details.