While our wildlife sightings, aside from some birds, have been reserved to underwater creatures, there is certainly no shortage of animals on land in French Polynesia.
Wandering the streets of Moorea and Huahine, nearly every family home seems to be equipped for self-sufficiency with several different fruit bearing trees as well as chickens and roosters roaming freely. In fact, on Moorea, a rooster served as a trusty alarm clock at 5:30 am every morning (which was actually a reasonable hour to wake up considering that with the combination of a 5:30 pm sunset and the time change, we were falling asleep around 8 or 9 pm!) In our short time here, we have also sadly seen several roosters who fell victim to their free-roaming lifestyle and never got a chance to be one of the classic chickens who got to cross the road. Roosters are literally everywhere, even on Moorea’s golf course!
Of course, there are also many dogs and cats that seem to roam the islands as they please. Our first hotel had a resident cat who gladly consumed all scraps left after dinner in the restaurant. I’ve never been super keen on cats, particularly the feral variety, but this one grew on me after persistently vying for my affection.
Our current pension, Chez Guynette in Huahine, has several resident cats, to the chagrin of the owner. In fact, one of the cats got stuck in the ceiling last night, causing quite a ruckus. The cats here are nice as well, and quite affectionate towards each other!
Dogs are even more present than cats on the islands. Nearly every household has a dog, or several, which are generally not tied up, although most seem to be friendly. There are also dogs that seem to have no home and wander freely around the islands, including many pregnant dogs. As we waited for our flight out of Moorea, a pregnant dog wandered through the airport. When a male dog sauntered into the airport, the scene that unfolded should have been reserved for the Nature Channel. The small domestic airports in French Polynesia are certainly a far cry from the sterile, serious airports of North America.
All I can say is, I’m thankful they put up fences around the runways!