New Caledonian Imperial-pigeon Ducula goliath


Justification of Red List Category
Although probably secure at present, this species qualifies as Near Threatened because it is projected to undergo a moderately rapid population reduction in the future, owing to increasing hunting pressure.

Population justification
The global population size has been estimated at roughly 100,000 individuals (Gibbs et al. 2001).

Trend justification
There are no data on population trends; however, the species may be in decline owing to hunting and habitat degradation and is suspected to undergo a population decline in the future, particularly if there is any relaxation of hunting laws, or changes in the timing of the hunting season.

Distribution and population

Ducula goliath is endemic to New Caledonia (to France). Recent studies have estimated much higher populations than previously surmised, with 1,500-7,000 individuals for Parc Provincial Rivière Bleue depending on the season (Grillet 1995, J-P. Demoncheaux in litt. 1997, Y. Létocart verbally 1998) and 100,000 individuals for the entire island (Ekstrom et al. 2000). It is distributed from the far north (Mandjelia) to the extreme south at Goro and is common in suitable habitat throughout (V. Chartendrault N. Barré in litt. 2007). It is present on the Ile des Pins and absent from the Loyalty islands (V. Chartendrault N. Barré in litt. 2007).


It is a humid forest species, occurring throughout the island wherever there are tall trees, and ranging to 1,500 m. It may live in quite small patches of forest along talwegs, particularly in the south (V. Chartendrault N. Barré in litt. 2007).


As a nomadic species, it may require large areas of protected forest to survive. Hunting by indigenous Kanaks could be in decline (Maruia/CI 1998, Ekstrom et al. 2000) and recreational hunting is presently significant only in a few easily accessible forests. Although the overall population is considered safe, any relaxation of hunting laws, or change in the timing of the hunting season, would severely impact some populations (Ekstrom et al. 2000, Barre et al. 2003). During the traditional ignam feast (from February to May, depending on the region), many individuals are killed by most of the tribes in the mountains and on the slopes. This famous game species has a symbolic value (it is considered the king of the birds) and is killed at certain occasions. As a game bird, it is legally hunted during the weekends of April, with a maximum of 5 birds per day/hunter (V. Chartendrault N. Barré in litt. 2007). Unfortunately, it is also shot all-year-round for the illegal trade in towns and villages, or for local consumption, especially at special events such as wedding and religious days (V. Chartendrault N. Barré in litt. 2007).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It is protected by law for most of the year.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Effectively protect lowland forests. Lobby against any changes in the law which would extend or change the timing of the hunting season. Monitor populations in key sites. Enforce the closed season. Increase awareness amongst local residents regarding the laws concerning this species.


Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Derhé, M., Dutson, G., Mahood, S., O'Brien, A.

Demoncheaux, J., Barré, N., Letocart, Y.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Ducula goliath. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/10/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 20/10/2021.