Justification of Red List Category
This species is judged to be Vulnerable on the basis of a small estimated population which is likely to be declining through habitat loss. However, it is an extremely poorly known species for which there are very few data, and fieldwork may reveal that the classification requires revision.
Its population has been estimated as fewer than 5,000 individuals (Toone et al. 1994). Davis et al. in prep. suggest that the population is precautionarily estimated as 250-1,000 mature individuals on New Britain, with smaller numbers in the same band 250-1,000 on the much smaller island of Umboi. The population is estimated here to be in the band 1,000-2,500 mature individuals.
Buchanan et al. (2008) calculated the rate of forest loss within the species's range on New Britain as 19% over three generations. The actual rate of decline may well be higher than this, owing to forest degradation, depredation by cats and other introduced predators, and hunting. Less detailed analysis is available for later years but about 2.2% of forest was lost plus 5.2% degraded across New Britain between 2002 and 2014 (Bryan and Shearman 2015). It is inferred that forest loss and degradation has slowed but the species’ rate of decline is precautionary retained at the rate measured by Buchanan et al. (2008) pending better data.
Henicophaps foersteri is endemic to New Britain and Umboi in Papua New Guinea. It is clearly a rare species but is also likely to have been overlooked. Several were seen on Umboi in 1976 (Diamond 1976) and there are a series of recent records from Pokili Wildlife Management Area (K. D. Bishop in litt. 1987, 1994), but only five recent records elsewhere (D. Gibbs in litt. 1996, Richards and Gamui 2011, P. Gregory 2012, G. Dutson in litt. 2012 and D. Watling in litt. 2012). It is assumed to occur in suitable habitat across New Britain.
This is a lowland forest species, known only from primary and mature secondary forest in lowlands and hills to at least 700 m (Dutson 2011). The most recent records have been at 75 m in old-growth forest (Davis et al. in prep), one photographed in edge of forest and plantation at about 100 m (D. Watling in litt. 2012 in Davis et al. in prep) and one in old-growth forest at about 200 m (Richards and Gamui 2011). This suggests that it is rare, largely restricted to old-growth forest, and may have a lower altitudinal range on New Britain than the records at 500-700 m on Umboi (Diamond 1976). It feeds on the ground but flushes up to perch in trees and it may also feed on arboreal fruits (D. Gibbs in litt. 1996).
As a lowland species which is apparently restricted to mature forest, it is threatened by logging. Nearly all accessible lowland forest within its range has been logged or is under logging concession, and large areas have been clear-felled for oil-palm plantations (Bryan and Shearman 2015). There is also ongoing clearance of forest for subsistence gardens by the growing local population. As a terrestrial species, it may suffer depredation from introduced cats and dogs.
Conservation Actions Underway
Has been recorded in both the Garu Wildlife Protection Area and the Poikili Wildlife Protection Area.
38 cm. Large, long-tailed, ground pigeon. Dark brown upperparts with iridescence on wing-coverts, shading to buff on forehead and underparts, contrasting with large, off-white throat patch. Similar spp. White-throated Pigeon Columba vitiensis also has white throat patch but is darker with metallic green fringes across upperparts. Yellow-legged Pigeon C. pallidiceps has uniformly pale grey head and yellow legs. Other ground-doves are much smaller and shorter-tailed and have dissimilar plumages. Voice Reported to be monotonously repeated pip-yia, the second note higher-pitched and upslurred. Hints Always check pigeons flushed from the forest floor.
Text account compilers
Dutson, G., O'Brien, A., Stattersfield, A., Derhé, M., North, A.
Dutson, G., Bishop, K.D., Gregory, P., Gibbs, D.
BirdLife International (2019) Species factsheet: Henicophaps foersteri. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/12/2019. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2019) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 09/12/2019.