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"Flinch has been hugely helpful in our efforts to save the Manumea, the critically endangered national bird of Samoa."

James Atherton, President, Samoa Conservation Society


We specialize in designing behaviour change programmes to help address some of the world's most difficult challenges. 

Case study: Saving the Manumea

We are working closely with the Samoa Conservation Society and the Government of Samoa to prevent the extinction of its national bird, the Manumea. The Manumea, a tooth-billed pigeon, is known globally as one of the last relatives of the famously extinct Dodo.   


We designed the behaviour change strategy in support of the 10-year Manumea Recovery Plan . 


Read our Strategy 

Using community-based social marketing approaches to help save Samoa's Little Dodo from extinction. 

The Manumea Friendly Villages in Samoa

Rev Dr Alesana Pala'amo sermon
for the Manumea

1. What's the problem?​


Since the 1990's the Manumea population has declined from around 7,000 to possibly less than 150 birds left in the wild. It is now only likely to exist in six key areas on the islands of Upolu and Savaii including: Falease'ela; Uafato; Malololelei; Aleipata; Aopo and Salelologa.

The Manumea provides significant value to the natural ecosystem because it uses its large beak to feed on large native seeds that cannot be eaten by other birds. By doing this, it acts as a crucial seed disperser, naturally restoring the native forest.  But despite a national ban on the hunting all native flying species, and a number of public awareness campaigns, the Manumea is now under serious threat of extinction.

Key threats to the Manumea include the loss of its lowland forest habitat and predation from rats and wild cats. Another major threat to the Manumea comes from human hunters who use shotguns to hunt the Lupe (Pacific pigeon) which is highly prized as a status food. According to the 2013-2014 Household Income & Expenditure Survey, Samoan householders consume an estimated 26,465 Lupe per year. While not a primary target of the Lupe hunters, the Manumea is frequently caught as bycatch.

2. What are the campaign objectives?


The main objectives of the "Save the Manumea" (Fa'asao le Manumea) campaign are to:

1. Increase local actions needed to protect the Manumea including local hunting bans, predator control, planting native species and increasing ecotourism opportunities in six target communities.


2. Reduce national demand for consuming Lupe and to reduce household consumption of pigeons by 25% by June, 2020.


3. Ban the use of shotgun ammunition which is being used to hunt the Lupe and increase the risk of by-catch for the Manumea.


An initial key objective of the campaign is to convince Samoan's that efforts to stop the hunting and consumption of Lupe will support efforts to protect the Manumea and enable its population to recover.  The 12-month campaign, from July 2019 to June 2020, has a target budget of USD$135K which is approximately the same commercial value of all the pigeons that are hunted every year in Samoa.

BBC World News Manumea
Play Video

Flinch helped to raise global awareness of the campaign to Save the Manumea through media partners such as BBC World.

Learn more about the Save the Manumea campaign in this excellent story from the team a Coconet TV

Samoa Manumea Campaign Villages 2019.jpg

The Save the Manumea campaign is working closely with key "Manumea Friendly Villages" such as Falease'eala and Uafato

3. What's different about the new campaign?

Past campaigns focused on increasing awareness and pride in the Manumea, without defining the key actions Samoan's need to take to support the recovery of their national bird.

In July, 2019, the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, and the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, co-launched a new campaign strategy to "Save the Manumea". 

This new partnership between the Samoan Government and the Samoa Conservation Society is designed to empower communities to take greater ownership and specific actions to protect the Manumea in those six key areas where it is still believed to exist.

The "Save the Manumea" campaign is using a two-pronged approach that is designed to simultaneously support action at the community and national levels, including efforts to decrease demand for Lupe and to ban the use of shotgun ammunition.  


The campaign to "Save the Manumea" is being supported by key partners from New Zealand, who are attempting to contribute expertise and experience from similar programmes in New Zealand. For example, Auckland Zoo is contributing its considerable experience in predator eradication, while funding from the Department of Conservation and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade is helping to support community engagement activities that have proven successful in New Zealand.

The campaign strategy has been informed by "Social Change Theory", where efforts to change specific behaviours are focused on changing community norms. The success of efforts to "Save the Manumea" will rely on the full buy-in and ownership of the local communities where the bird is still thought to exist.


In key pilot villages, such as Uafato and Falease'ela, there is already a high level of community support and commitment towards implementing greater local efforts to protect the Manumea, including efforts to enforce local hunting bans, support pest control and restore areas of native forest. Building on the "social capital" that already exists within these communities will support efforts to protect both the Manumea and the wider environment.


Pilot communities, such as Falease'ela and Uafato, are working to enforce local hunting bans, eradicate pests and plant those native trees preferred by the Manumea. This work is also being supported by investments into ecotourism "infrastructure" such as signage, trails and bird hides. It is hoped that becoming a "Manumea Friendly Village" will lead to direct ecotourism benefits and support from key partners such as the Samoa Tourism Authority.

The "Save the Manumea" campaign is also using public artworks to raise awareness of the critical situation faced by the Manumea. Visiting artists from New Zealand, Charles and Janine Williams, initially painted a giant mural of the Manumea on the side of the New Zealand High Commission in Apia, before running a  community-based painting workshop with aspiring artists from key communities. Manumea murals are now being painted on schools and other public buildings around Samoa.

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The campaign was officially launched by the Deputy Prime Minister of Samoa, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, and the New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, in July 2019

Kiwi artists, Charles & Janine Williams, have been working with communities to paint giant murals of the Manumea all around Samoa

Manumea Chocolate Wrapping Party.jpg

4. What do we know about the consumers of Lupe?


A 2006 survey of 221 people found that over half had eaten Lupe and it also suggested that consumption of Lupe was being driven by wealthier Samoans with the wealthiest 10% of Samoans being responsible for consuming nearly 50% of all pigeons. This research appeared to suggest consumption of was being driven by wealthier people living in Apia such as business leaders, pastors, matai and government officials. 


Another survey of 246 people carried out in August, 2019, also found that almost 40% had eaten pigeon. However, this survey indicated that regular consumers come from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds. While 86% said they were concerned about the survival of the Manumea, only 50% believed that eating pigeon was a key threat to its survival.


5. What is the objective of the national social media campaign?

The national social media campaign is designed to increase awareness of the main threats to the Manumea and to help build the community support needed to reduce the hunting, gifting and consumption of Lupe.

Stage 1: Start the Conversation - Don’t eat pigeon, eat chocolate!

The first stage of the social media campaign focused on getting people to talk about the Manumea in a fun and engaging way by promoting a fundraising initiative in partnership with the Wellington Chocolate Factory.


As part of this work, the main campaign champion, Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa, took part in a humorous 25-second social media designed to help promote a new range of "Save the Manumea" chocolate. The clip opens with the Deputy PM about to eat a bar of Manumea chocolate when someone off camera says: "Fiame, what are you doing?" The Deputy PM then looks straight towards the camera before replying: "Why, I'm Saving the Manumea!" . The closing titles then say: "Don't eat pigeon, Eat delicious Samoan Chocolate!"

Stage 2: Grow Community Support