Save the Endangered Kagu Bird

Target: Nicolas Hulot, France’s Minister of Ecological and Solidary Transition

Goal: Better protect the endangered Kagu bird of New Caledonia, by preserving its habitat in the face of logging and mining and by warding off invasive species.

The kagu, or cagou (Rhynochetos jubatus), is a nearly-flightless bird native to the French overseas territory of New Caledonia, and endemic to Grand Terre, the territory’s largest island.

Once abundant in the territory, its numbers declined dramatically due to subsistence farming and hunting and, as early as 1904, concerns were raised about the preservation of the species. Today it remains threatened by logging, mining, and the encroachment of invasive predators including cats, pigs, dogs, and rats.

While a reduction in incidental killings caused by hunting dogs has given the bird a chance to make a comeback, the kagu’s habitat remains degraded from the introduction of foreign mammals. The feeding habits of non-native deer, cows, and other foraging creatures—not to mention mining and logging operations—have damaged or fragmented the forests in which the kagu dwells, leaving it with few, if any, suitable areas for nesting.

According to the EDGE of Existence program, some potential ways to restore the kagu’s population include the following proposals: “Unknown areas of forest must be surveyed for the presence of kagu. Populations in better-known ranges should continue to be monitored. Dispersal of individuals between isolated subpopulations needs to be studied to ensure gene flow and avoid inbreeding. Management of dogs… must be introduced. A small mobile survey team should be employed to visit ‘kagu listening points’ in specific forests… The effects of deer must be assessed, and the feasibility of controlling their populations at key sites investigated. The effects of rat predation at different sites must be determined, particularly in the north of the island. Conservation projects should be initiated in other areas where kagu subpopulations are known to exist. Educational and public awareness of kagu conservation and responsible dog ownership need to be intensified.”

The Kagu is a national emblem of New Caledonia. To lose it would be to lose both a unique species and an element of cultural pride and identity for the people of the territory.


Dear Minister Hulot,

New Caledonia is known as a biodiversity hotspot: its isolation and the isolation of its constituent islands have given rise to exceptionally unique forms of life, one of which is now threatened with being wiped from the face of the planet forever.

The kagu, or cagou (Rhynochetos jubatus), is a national emblem of the territory. Sometimes known as “the ghost of the forest,” due to its white plumage, there are perhaps just over a thousand individual birds left in the wild. They have been, and continue to be, threatened by the introduction of invasive species, incidental killings by hunting dogs, and mining and logging operations.

Suggested solutions include surveying and monitoring the kagu’s ranges and the removal of deer, pigs, dogs, rats, and other predatory or destructive species from its known habitat.

Please urge the New Caledonian and French governments to increase their efforts to protect this nearly-extinct bird.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Pierre Fidenci

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  1. Kathryn Irby says:


  2. Please save this beautiful bird from further destruction and complete annihilation!


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