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Local knowledge surveys can help track threatened species: the example of Horned Curassow

© Waldo Huaman

The Endangered Horned Curassow Pauxi unicornis is known from central Bolivia and central Peru. The latter population had not been recorded since 1969 until a local knowledge survey revealed that it still existed. Follow-up surveys in 2005 produced the first sightings by scientists for 36 years. Local knowledge surveys can be an efficient way of using limited resources to identify where to focus more detailed biological studies and conservation efforts.


Horned Curassow Pauxi unicornis is classified as Endangered because its population is declining very rapidly owing to hunting and habitat destruction. It also has a small range and is known from few locations in a narrow elevational band, which is subject to habitat loss. It occurs in two disjunct populations in central Bolivia and central Peru. The latter population (relating to the subspecies koepckeae) was known only from the Cerros del Sira in Huánuco and had not been recorded since its description in 1969 (Birdlife International 2008).

In 2003, Armonía (BirdLife in Bolivia) surveyed local indigenous people from the area, and received credible reports, including of birds hunted recently. This was followed up by further fieldwork in 2005, which produced the first sightings of birds in the wild for 36 years. The total population is estimated to be fewer than 400 individuals and declining.The species occurs at densities of up to 20 individuals/km2, although this appears to be exceptional and at most sites only one or two individuals have been found.

Gamebirds are among the most intensely hunted birds in South America and are well known by local people. This makes them ideal targets for local knowledge surveys, which can be an efficient way of using limited resources to identify where to focus more detailed biological studies and conservation efforts.



Related Species

References

BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008. CD-ROM. Cambridge, UK: BirdLife International.

Acknowledgements

Melvin Gastañaga Corvacho kindly provided relevant information.

Compiled 2008

Recommended Citation:
BirdLife International (2008) Local knowledge surveys can help track threatened species: the example of Horned Curassow. Presented as part of the BirdLife State of the world's birds website. Available from: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/sowb/casestudy/274. Checked: 22/12/2014