Endangered dodo relative found in WA

By AG Staff May 9, 2017
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Local Indigenous rangers were surprised to spot the bird on the remote Kimberley coast – a long way from home.

AN ENDANGERED BIRD believed to be the closest living relative to the extinct dodo has been discovered by Indigenous rangers on the remote north coast of Western Australia.

Identified as the Nicobar pigeon (Caloenas nicobarica), Bardi Jawa rangers first spotted the striking, colourful bird at Chile Creek on the Dampier Peninsula north of Broome in April, followed by several more sightings.

The adventurous bird was a long way from home – Nicobar pigeons, usually an island-dwelling bird, are native to South East Asia and the South Pacific.

nicobar pigeon

The first reported sighting of the Niobar pigeon on the Australian mainland, this bird was photographed at One Arm Point community in the Kimberley region of north-west WA. (Image courtesy Bardi Jawi rangers)

“We immediately knew it wasn’t a native species, but we had no idea how far it had actually come from to get here,” said Bardi Jawi Senior Ranger Kevin George.

“We don’t know how the bird got here – whether it flew all the way from Indonesia, India or the Solomons, if it island hopped or came by boat,” he said.

The bird was eventually captured as part of biosecurity protocol and is reportedly being held in quarantine by the WA Department of Agriculture.

“We are very proud to be the first mob to actually see and record this animal on Australian soils,” Bardi Jawi Ranger Coordinator Phillip McCarthy told the ABC.

In a statement from the Kimberley Land Council, Philip said the finding is an important example of the biosecurity work rangers are undertaking all along the Kimberley coastline. 

“We are the eyes and ears for Bardi Jawi country and will continue to work hard to look after this amazing coastline,” he said.