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New sightings of a small island specialist

Up to five Grey Imperial-pigeons Ducula pickeringii have been sighted on the small Indonesian island of Sangalaki, around 100 km east of East-Kalimantan in the Derawan-Island group ? by an invasive species eradication team.

The Grey Imperial-pigeon is classified as Vulnerable and specialises in inhabiting small islands with fig trees. Although this is the most southerly record ever of this species, it is not too surprising given there are historical records from the nearby Maratua area.

During their stay in July 2003, the eradication team (InGrip-Consulting & Animal Control) carried out a survey of native fauna on the island and found small numbers of Pied Imperial-pigeons Ducula bicolor, Pink-necked Green-pigeons Treron vernans and Grey Imperial-pigeons, which were feeding on fruiting trees and bushes near the coast.

Neighbouring islands with suitable habitat probably hold populations of Grey Imperial-pigeons, although they are likely to be threatened by hunting and deforestation. The few birds on Sangalaki, however, are safe because the island is strictly protected as it is an important nesting ground for Green Turtles Chelonia mydas. Furthermore, the eradication team believes that they were successful in removing rats from Sangalaki.

4th July 2014