Pigeon feared extinct found in Samoa

MICHAEL FIELD
Last updated 18:49 25/01/2014
The manumea or tooth-billed pigeon
NOT EXTINCT: A museum exhibit of the manumea, also known as the tooth-billed pigeon

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A bird cousin of the long lost dodo has been found in Samoa a decade after it was feared they were extinct.

Samoan scientists re-discovered the manumea or tooth-billed pigeon by accident last month.

"One of the team …went outside to hang his wet clothes on the line and heard a noise that attracted his attention,” Samoa Division of Environment and Conservation team leader Moeumu Uili said.

“He looked up to the tree and saw a bird sitting up high on one of the tree branches.”

The research, funded by Britain Birdwatch organisation, was trying to establish whether manumea was extinct.

The last time the bird was seen was briefly in 2006 when researchers saw it in the forst of Salelologa in Savai’i.

Uili said when the team member named as Fialelei saw the bird, everybody got their binoculars and cameras.

“I started taking as many pictures as I could before the bird flew off. A closer look using binoculars and we knew we had found it, the rare manumea. Everyone had questioned whether the bird still existed. Now we know it is still alive."

Manumea (Didunculus strigirostris) is also known as the “little dodo” but its relationship to the real dodo (Raphus cucullatus) is considered very distant,

The dodo was an flightless bird on Mauritius, first seen by Europeans in 1598 by Dutch sailors. It was quickly wiped out by sailors for food and was last seen in 1662.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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