The maleo, a bird endemic to Sulawesi, is on the brink of extinction as a result of poaching and a shrinking habitat. The Jakarta Post’s correspondent in the Central Sulawesi provincial capital of Palu, Ruslan Sangadji, takes a closer look at how land conversion, egg theft and international support may make or break conservation efforts.

by Ruslan Sangadji

Among other birds in Sulawesi, one of the Indonesian islands within the Wallacea biogeographical realm, the maleo stands out for its distinctive build and colors — it is so distinctive that the bird has been designated the official bird of Central Sulawesi. Its crown is ornamented with a black casque and its tail stands upright. An adult maleo is the size of a domestic chicken, at about 60 centimeters long and 1.6 kilograms in weight. It has dark plumage on its upperparts and white-orange underparts. Its facial skin is yellow, its beak orange and casque black. Males and females look similar; males are slightly larger and their colors brighter. The monogamous maleo lives in hill and lowland forests. The species is vulnerable to predators and poaching as it lays eggs in open sandy river banks, coastal areas or lagoon beaches. The bird can lay eight to 12 eggs a year. Accompanie...