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Tooth-billed Pigeon: Is there hope for the Little Dodo?

Scientific classification: Didunculus strigirostris

Nicknamed the ‘little Dodo’, the Tooth-billed Pigeon is among the closest living relatives to the extinct Dodo. Unfortunately, this species too is disappearing at an alarming rate. They only live on Samoa and there are currently 70 to 380 left in the wild, with no captive populations to aid conservation efforts.

Very little is actually known about tooth-billed pigeons. They are elusive and very rarely seen. The bird known locally as the Manumea is the only member of its genus Didunculus, which in Latin means “little dodo.”, and is also the national bird of Samoa.

The Manumea is a big forest pigeon, about the size of a chicken, with an amazingly large bright red beak which has two tooth-like structures on the bottom. The bird also has a blue head and chest, and darkred wings. In the past hunting has played a big part in their decline and has killed thousands of individuals. Currently, one of their main threats is habitat loss.

Large areas of their home have been cleared to make space for agriculture, destroyed by cyclones or taken over by invasive trees. They are also at risk of predation from invasive species, including feral cats. The tooth-billed pigeon is rated critically endangered on the IUCN red list and surveys suggest only 70 to 380 individuals survive in the wild. A single juvenile was last spotted in 2013.

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