Crow Thought To Be Extinct Is Found, But People Are Hunting It

Credit: Philippe Verbelen via MSU.

The Banggai crow was thought to be extinct, and only found in a museum. A Michigan State University species sleuth recently confirmed the existence of the black bird on a remote, mountainous Indonesian Island.

The only problem now: The bird needs protection. It looks a lot like a more common slender-billed crow called the Corvus enca, and the endangered version is being hunted by local residents. The Banggai crow was previously only known to science by two specimens described 109 years ago. Indonesian biologists found two new alleged specimens on Peleng Island in 2007, but there was speculation that the birds were just subspecies of a different crow.

Pamela Rasmussen, an MSU assistant professor, helped verify that the new two birds were true Banggais by studying the two old specimens at New York's American Museum of Natural History.

Other researchers involved in the rediscovery --- professor Mochamad Indrawan of the University of Indonesia and collaborator Yunus Masala --- now have turned their efforts toward protecting the rare species from local hunters.

They're considering protection of the bird's forest habitat through sustainable agriculture practices and ecotourism.

Who wants to fly to Peleng to see the crow? Perhaps get a picture of one perched on your arm? A Banggai T-shirt?

All kidding aside, the rediscovery of species is always a big deal, because further study of a bird like this could result in a cure for cancer for all we know.

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