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Rare species caught on camera

Scientists working in the tropical forests of west-central Sumatra have recorded one of Indonesia’s rarest species of bird.

A joint Indonesian and British team surveying for tigers in a former logging concession close to Kerinci Seblat National Park photographed a species in their camera traps that took them all by surprise. ‘We’ve photographed Rhinoceros Hornbills and Great Argus Pheasants before but when we found that we’d photographed a Sumatran Ground Cuckoo, we couldn’t believe it,’ said field team leader Mr Yoan Dinata of Fauna & Flora International’s (FFI) Indonesia Programme.

Until now, the endemic Sumatran Ground Cuckoo Carpococcyx viridis has only been recorded once since 1916, and then only from southern Sumatra in 1997.

‘Re-finding this critically endangered species close to Kerinci Seblat is especially exciting,’ said project manager Dr Matthew Linkie of the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology at the University of Kent. ‘We’ve recently shown how critical Kerinci Seblat is for the long-term survival of Sumatran tigers [a reference to a study published in the latest Journal of Applied Ecology] but finding the Sumatran Ground Cuckoo gives me hope, because it was photographed in disturbed forest that has been left to recover near the national park, and because our project has built capacity among young Indonesian scientists to lead camera trapping teams that undertake routine monitoring.’

Sumatran rainforests contain some of the world’s richest biodiversity but they are also among the world’s most threatened forests. The ongoing threat of deforestation by farmland expansion that follows selective logging is of greatest concern because it completely removes forest habitat.

Mr Sukianto Lusli, Executive Director of BirdLife Indonesia, said: ‘This exciting discovery highlights the importance of conserving formerly selectively logged concessions around national parks. Sumatra’s lowland rainforests will be destroyed through illegal and unsustainable logging activities unless we protect them now.’

Dr Jito Sugardjito of FFI Indonesia added: ‘This makes the ongoing law enforcement forest patrols, particularly the highly effective community-based patrol units co-ordinated by Fauna & Flora International and Kerinci Seblat National Park management, vital for the survival of rare and threatened species in Sumatra.’

Karen Baxter | alfa
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