Archived 2012-2013 topics: Victoria Crowned-pigeon (Goura victoria): downlist to Near Threatened?

BirdLife species factsheet for Victoria Crowned-pigeon Victoria Crowned-pigeon Goura victoria occurs on Biak-Supiori (where it may have been introduced), the Yapen islands, and northern New Guinea from Geelvink Bay, Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), Indonesia, to Astrolabe Bay, and an isolated area around Collingwood Bay in easternmost Papua New Guinea (PNG) (Coates 1985, Beehler et al. 1986, King and Nijboer 1994). It is currently listed as Vulnerable under criteria A2cd+3cd+4cd, on the basis that the population was suspected to be declining by ≥30% over 3 generations (an estimated 20 years in this species), owing to hunting for meat and feathers, and the loss and degradation of its lowland forest habitat. The main populations are in the Sepik Basin of PNG and the Mamberamo Basin of Papua (B. Beehler in litt. 2007), it remains locally common in some remote undisturbed areas (K. D. Bishop in litt. 1994), and has recently been described as widespread in lowland alluvial forest (B. Beehler in litt. 2012). Furthermore, the species is fairly difficult to hunt without a shotgun as it flushes at considerable distance (c.40 m) and perches high in the middle-story, out of the reach of hunters with bows (B. Beehler in litt. 2012). Shotguns are said to be essentially no longer available in New Guinea (B. Beehler in litt. 2012) and thus, the main threat of the past decade may have disappeared. If this evidence is confirmed, the species may qualify for downlisting to Near Threatened on the basis that it no longer meets the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criteria of the IUCN Red List guidelines. Nevertheless, it may still be declining moderately rapidly (approaching 30% over c.20 years) owing to the impacts of long-term degradation of lowland forests through selective logging at the industrial scale as well as the development of oil-palm plantations. Further evidence is required on the severity of hunting on this species population, and information on current population size and recent trends is welcome. References: Beehler, B. M., Pratt, T. K. and Zimmerman, D. A. (1986) Birds of New Guinea. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Coates, B. J. (1985) The birds of Papua New Guinea, 1: non-passerines. Dove, Alderley, Australia. King, C. E. and Nijboer, J. (1994) Conservation considerations for crowned pigeons, genus Goura. Oryx 28: 22-30.

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One Response to Archived 2012-2013 topics: Victoria Crowned-pigeon (Goura victoria): downlist to Near Threatened?

  1. Guy Dutson says:

    I agree that the original assessments for this species were over-precautionary. Although it is hunted, it does appear to persist close to inhabitation and close to hunters. There is no monitoring of this species but at the regularly visited birding site of Nimbokrang village near Jayapura, there is no evidence of decline (e.g. personal records in 2012 <2 km from Nimbokrang; also < 2 km from paved roads on Biak). Listing should instead be based on the rate of lowland forest loss across its range.
    I suggest that all New Guinea species listed as VU primarily on the basis of hunting pressure (i.e. cassowaries, Harpy Eagle, Salvadori's Teal, crowned pigeons, Pesquet's Parrot and some birds of paradise) are re-assessed.

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