Camera trap records rare ground-cuckoo in Sumatra

Sumatran Ground-cuckoo
This Sumatran Ground-cuckoo wandered past a camera trap in a Sumatra park. Photo by Batang Gadis National Park Agency and Conservation International

Park rangers in Indonesia said last week that they had photographed the nearly extinct Sumatran Ground-cuckoo (Carpococcyx viridis) for the first time in a protected area in North Sumatra. The sighting was about 300 kilometers (186 miles) north of the bird’s known range.

A camera trap in Batang Gadis National Park recorded the ground-cuckoo twice in one morning last November.

Based on the recorded images, park officials and experts from Conservation International (CI), identified the sighted bird as the Sumatran ground cuckoo, which is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN.

“This is the first time the Sumatran Ground-cuckoo was recorded in the national park,” Paul van Nimwegen, biodiversity conservation specialist at CI, wrote in an email.

The ground-cuckoo suns itself on the forest floor. Photo by Batang Gadis National Park Agency and Conservation International

Van Nimwegen pointed out that the images showed the bird “foraging and sunning on the forest floor.”

Endemic to Sumatra, the bird — whose feathers are green and brown — was considered extinct until one was spotted in 1997 in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, which is located about 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) south of Batang Gadis National Park.

A few unconfirmed sightings of the bird, whose declining population is estimated at 50-249 mature individuals, have been reported since 2007, according to the IUCN.

“Its discovery in Batang Gadis National Park indicates that there is a previously unknown population of this bird occurring in the area,” van Nimwegen said. “This is incredibly significant. The national park might be one of its last refuges,” he added.

The park’s management agency and CI have yet to carry out field research to obtain more information. Van Nimwegen noted that it was “very difficult to obtain physical evidence” as there were only eight known specimens of the species.

The cuckoo lives in the foothills and in lower montane forests. It feeds on reptiles and small mammals, according to the IUCN.

Inaugurated as a national park in 2004, Batang Gadis covers about 70,000 hectares (270 square miles) of land with an altitude ranging between 300 to 2,145 meters above sea level. The park is also known to house the densest population of tapirs in Southeast Asia.

Encroachment and hunting are the top threats faced by wildlife in Batang Gadis, according to park spokesman Bobby Nopandry.

“We are going to deploy a team to further study this animal so we can form a conservation strategy,” he wrote in an email. — Basten Gokkon

Originally published by Mongabay


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