Subject: First photos of rare dove in Timor-Leste

BirdLife International

First photos of rare dove


A rare and enigmatic dove has been photographed live for the first time in Timor-Leste.

In early August 2004 Flaminio Xavier of the East Timor Ministry Of Development and Environment spotted a bird trader walking along the street in Bidau area, Dili, Timor-Leste, carrying birds in cages and cardboard boxes. He stopped the man and started to have a chat to him, informing him that hunting and selling birds was illegal. Flaminio managed to get hold of one of the boxes of birds but the man soon fled with the other.

The box held one Slaty Cuckoo-dove Turacoena modesta (Vulnerable) and another bird that Flaminio didn't recognise. This turned out to be a Wetar Ground-dove Gallicolumba hoedtii. There also were two birds of this species in one of the other boxes. Before fleeing the man indicated that the birds had been caught in the Betano area on the south coast of Timor-Leste in the Sungai Clere area.

Wetar Ground-dove (Endangered) is only known by c.20 specimens collected at unspecified localities around the beginning of the twentieth century on Wetar. It has been recorded at only three localities in West Timor (including only one record during a nine-week survey in 1993), and was not recorded during recent surveys on Timor-Leste.

Flaminio kept the dove at his relatives' house where it was photographed by Colin Trainor, who had been working in Timor-Leste on behalf of BirdLife. The dove was released back to the wild in Nov 2004.

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