Gonzovation & the Manumea
Gonzovationists Join Samoa's Campaign
to Save the Manumea
The world-famous, UK-based, "Gonzo" cartoonist, Ralph Steadman, and writer-filmmaker Ceri Levy, are injecting their special brand of Gonzovation into the campaign to Save the Manumea – the national bird of Samoa.
Ceri Levy says he and Ralph Steadman originally teamed up in 2012 to write "The Gonzovation Trilogy", a series of books about the threats facing many species around the world.
"We originally overlooked the Manumea because, at that time, it was only considered endangered. What we find most saddening is that since then, the Manumea has changed status to one of being critically endangered," he says.
The Manumea is famously related to the iconic Dodo which became extinct in 1662 after being hunted by sailors. The last confirmed sighting of a Manumea or "Little Dodo" was in the Uafato forest on 4 August 2017. Surveys undertaken 2012-2013 suggest there may now be fewer than 50 individuals for each of the two main islands of Samoa, Savai'i and Upolu.
Gonzovation is defined as "exhibiting compassion for the natural world" and Ralph Steadman has actively demonstrated his compassion for the people and natural heritage of Samoa by creating a new painting of the "Little Dodo" to help inspire local and international efforts to save this globally significant species. The Gonzovation team are selling 100 prints of the Little Dodo with all proceeds going towards the campaign to Save the Manumea.
Levy says the whole point of Gonzovation is to help people to find ways to directly engage with, "real-time missions" to save species, rather than simply liking something on a social media post. He says the Covid pandemic is forcing many countries to question what they value as a society.
"Nature is vital to mental health and it brings great joy to many people, but I fear that many of those animals that desperately need help to survive are not getting it during this global Covid pandemic," he says.
"Those that champion the fight against extinction need as much support as the threatened animals or birds we are trying to save. It’s a constant battle to keep interest high and to continually promote awareness as well as money to save a species. That work needs outside appreciation and support and they also need to know they are not alone. That's why Ralph and I decided to get involved", he says.
Seumaloisalafai Afele Faiilagi, Assistant Chief Executive Officer for the Division of Environment and Conservation of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (M.N.R.E), says the new 10-year Manumea Recovery Plan (2020-2029) was launched in partnership with Samoa Conservation Society (S.C.S) on 12 June 2020.
“The Manumea Recovery Plan spells out the key actions that are needed to Save the Manumea but it will require significant funding and a concerted effort by all Samoans to reduce the main impacts threatening the Manumea with extinction," he says.
The Samoan comedian, Tofiga Fepulea'i, has also thrown his support behind the campaign. by mixing music and humour with a serious message aimed at encouraging communities to ban the hunting and eating of another native pigeon, the Lupe, because of the threat this hunting also poses to the Manumea. Some villages like Uafato and Falease'ela have already banned the hunting of Lupe to try and protect the Manumea from extinction.
Leilani Duffy, the President of the Samoa Conservation Society, says that all the partners behind the campaign are hugely grateful for the support provided by key champions such as the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa and the New Zealand artists, Charles and Janine Williams, who have supported several fantastic local efforts to paint murals of the Manumea right around Samoa.
"I would also like to acknowledge the great work being done on the ground by our key "Manumea Friendly Villages", together with support from members of the Samoa Conservation Society and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
"In New Zealand, we've also received great ongoing support from key partners such as the Auckland Zoo, the Auckland Foundation and the Wellington-based marketing and advertising companies, Flinch and EightyOne.
"We really want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed towards the campaign and we also invite others to join this collective effort to Save the Manumea before it is too late," she says.