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Pitcairn

Pitcairn: animals

Pitcairn: animals

Mammals

There is actually only one single chemical mammal on the islands, the Pacific rat. This was once brought to the islands by the Maoris and has now become a nuisance. Larger land mammals do not occur here.

Reptiles

The most common reptiles are skinks and geckos, but turtles are also found on the islands. The green turtle is found on Henderson Island, and the green sea turtle also visits the beaches of this island to lay eggs. Venomous snakes do not live here

Birds In

addition to insects, birds are the most species-rich group on the islands, with many, including endemic species, threatened with extinction. This includes the Pitcairn warbler, an endemic land bird from the warbler family, which is the smallest bird on Henderson Island. Other endemic land birds are the black and gray Tuamotus moorhen, the Henderson pigeon and the Henderson lory. Numerous sea birds such as the fairy terns, frigate birds, curlews and red-footed boobies nest on the sea cliffs.

Insect

butterflies are the most striking group on the islands in terms of size. But there are also many other groups of insects, such as jumpers and beetles, of which there are two endemic species.

Underwater world

Some of the Pitcairn Islands are completely surrounded by coral reef, which offers a unique habitat for numerous fish and other underwater residents. There are particularly many mollusks here, but lobsters, lobsters, moray eels and the red snapper are also among the reef residents, along with reef sharks. The deep sea fish include sea bream, tuna, sharks and the rare marlin. Once a year the humpback whales pass by the islands and sperm whales have also been spotted here.

Pitcairn: plants

Trees

The most common trees on the islands are pandanus trees, the leaves of which are often used to make wattle. In German they are known as “screw palm”, which describes the arrangement of their sharply sawn leaves. It forms aerial roots on the lower part of the trunk. The fruits are spherical and consist of hundreds of individual fruits. In some species (630 in total) of the screw palm you can eat the fleshy part of the fruit cluster. On the lower part of the trunk, the trees form strong aerial roots, which gives the impression that the tree is standing on stilts.

The "Sharkwood Tree" (Homalyium taypau) is endemic (only occurs on these islands) and dominates the mountain rainforests on Pitcairn. The residents use the wood of this tree to make the popular carvings, often in the form of sharks and dolphins.

Coconut palms are particularly widespread in the coastal area, on Henderson Island they occur together with the pandanus trees mainly on the north and west coasts. Other tree species belong to the sandalwood and ironwoods, such as the Metrosideros collina.

Crops

Pitcairn is the only inhabited island in the Pitcairn Islands, so crops that include citrus fruits, bananas, melons and pineapples as well as sweet potatoes, yams and breadfruit are grown exclusively here. Yams (also called taro) is a tuberous plant that belongs to the arum family and forms perennial, up to 2 m high bushes with an upright growth. Their heart-shaped leaves are dark green with a fine white coating and often have a diameter of 60 cm. The tuberous, thickened roots are mainly used, and are prepared like potatoes. But young taro leaves are also eaten as a vegetable.

Coconuts, papayas and guyavas are also important crops on the island.

More plants

What is striking about Henderson Island is that most of the plants found here are endemic, including the Bidens methewsii, a daisy family that thrives on the cliffs of the south and west coasts. The worm fern family Ctentis cumingii is also endemic and at the same time severely threatened. Pereromia hendersonensis, an endemic pepper plant, grows in the lighter areas of the forest. Ferns are found in remote valleys and there is generally strong bush encroachment, especially on Pitcairn, where human interference can be clearly felt.

On the two islands of Oeno and Ducie, the flora is much more sparse and is mainly limited to vascular plants. The hibiscus is particularly common on all the islands and grows almost everywhere.

Most of the plants native to the islands were once introduced. One of these species is the rose apple, a 15 m tall myrtle bush that found its way from Asia to the islands. Its green and actually more pear-shaped fruit has a light rose scent, which is what gave the plant its name.

Pitcairn flag and coat of arms

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