The rare and critically endangered Waigeo brush-turkey is endemic to Indonesia, and has been captured on video for the first time.
Once thought to be extinct, the Waigeo brush-turkey is a large, brownish-black creature with a bare red facial skin, red comb, maroon rump and chestnut brown below. It has two elongated red wattles on the back of the head and a long wattle on the foreneck.
Though the Waigeo brush-turkey looks like a cross between a turkey and chicken, it belongs to a separate family of birds called megapodes, also known as incubator birds or mound-builders.
Megapodes don’t use their own body heat to incubate their eggs. Instead, they use their large feet to bury their eggs with decomposing leaf litter. The compost acts like an oven, warming the eggs. Males constantly add or take away material to properly regulate the mound’s internal temperature.
The rare species was filmed on the island of Waigeo, the largest of the Raja Ampat Islands archipelago in West Papua, a province of Indonesia. West Papua is rich in biodiversity, both in its coastal waters and rainforests. Many of the region’s animals and their habitats are threatened by deforestation, agriculture, fishing and other forms of resource extraction.
“The Waigeo brush-turkey is just one of numerous threatened species that are unique to the archipelago, including many that are new to science,” Martin Baumann of OroVerde, a group dedicated to the preservation of tropical forests, said in a news release. “It is therefore vital that adequate conservation measures are taken to minimise the impact of infrastructure development and uncontrolled tourism.”
OroVerde and Fauna & Flora International have been working with environmental officials in Indonesia to better protect West Papua and combat illegal logging and wildlife trade. A greater understanding of the biodiversity in the region can help the case for conservation.
“This is a great example of scientific and local knowledge combining to uncover the biological riches of Indonesia,” said FFI’s local partner Maurits Kafiar. “I hope that the Waigeo brush-turkey becomes a flagship species for the conservation of Waigeo’s forest.”
Credit: Earth.com Staff/Fauna & Flora International