PhD title: An Examination of the Relationships that the People of Rarotonga have with Native and Non-Native Species; in order to Inform Conservation Strategy on the Island
My research stems from a travel-writing trip that saw me visit Rarotonga, the main island in the Cook Islands chain. I left the airport and got into the taxi, only to be joined soon afterwards by an introduced Indian Myna bird, which hopped in through the window. The Indian Myna is one of a number of ‘invasive’ animal species - including rodents, feral cats and feral chickens - introduced to the island by Polynesian or European settlers. While invasive animal species have been eradicated on non-inhabited islands, and on islands with small human populations, there have been very few instances where eradication has been attempted on large islands with large human populations. When it has occurred, there was inadequate research beforehand into human perceptions, understandings of, and relationships with, the invasive animals that were targeted.
The aim of my study is to discover how the people of Rarotonga, a relatively large and heavily populated island, perceive, understand and relate to invasive and feral animals in everyday life. It also examines how these perceptions, understandings and relationships might influence the control or eradication of invasive species on islands.
2019 Australian Government Research Training Program Scholarship (AGRTP)
2018 Global Challenges Travel Scholarship