There’s something unusual in “Tropigal Paradise,” the newest episode of Angry Birds Seasons that was released on April 30. As always, there are irate birds, and they’re bouncing through 26 new levels of palms trees and beaches to save their eggs from the dastardly green pigs. But there’s also a banner that implores players to “Help The Birds!”
Not the addictive digitized birds, but the real-life counterpart of each character.
The Tahiti Monarch, Polynesian Ground-dove, Bristle-thighed Curlew, and Atoll Fruit-dove all live on Pacific Islands, and all have experienced drastic declines at the teeth and claws of invasive rodents brought to the isles by humans around 2000 BC. Along with cats and goats, these unwelcome real-life green-pig-equivalents drove half of all bird species to extinction in the Pacific Islands. Of the surviving species remaining in the Pacific area today, 81 are still threatened with extinction.
BirdLife International has been racing to save at-risk bird populations on more than 30 islands in five Pacific countries—Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, New Caledonia and Palau—in the last decade. The group’s latest project, to rid French Polynesia of ship rats, comes at a cost of $150,000. BirdLife has already lined up half the money, and is hoping benevolent Angry fans will click on the “Help The Birds!” banner and make donations to fill the remaining $75,000 gap.
The rats are in “the wrong place at the wrong time,” says BirdLife’s Head of Communications Ade Long. BirdLife’s aim is “to restore these tropical paradise islands back to their original glory,” says Long.
And it’s not just for the birds. Eliminating the invasive species will be a boon for local human communities as well, increasing crop yields and lowering risk of disease. Plus, in highly infested areas, he says, “toes won’t be getting nibbled in the nighttime anymore.”
After taking care of the real-life birds, Angry Birds fans are encouraged to return to defending the virtual ones.
Editor’s Note: BirdLife International is the largest conservation partnership in the world—learn more about their work in the Pacific Islands. The National Audubon Society serves as a BirdLife partner in the Western Hemisphere.