Bogani Nani Wartabone, Indonesia

A Bird Like No Other: Raising Maleos Video
After carefully recreating the conditions needed for incubation, WCS ornithologists at the Bronx Zoo helped a maleo family hatch three rare chicks. The zoo is the only home for maleos outside Indonesia, and the staff’s insights into this rare bird’s nesting needs will improve conservation efforts on behalf of its wild cousins.
Bogani Nani Wartabone, Indonesia Photo
©Mary Iorizzo

Located in the northern arm of the Indonesian island of Sulawesi and covering about 2,000 square miles, the forests of Bogani Nani Wartabone are one of the most important sites for conserving the island’s unique and rich terrestrial flora and fauna. Lowland and sub-montane rainforest covers the area and provides habitats for a large number of endemic and globally threatened species such as the anoa, babirusa, 3 species of macaques, and 19 globally threatened bird species.

The forests are also home to the endangered maleo, a chicken-size bird that lays one enormous egg—five times larger than that of a chicken—and buries it in sun-baked sands on beaches or in volcanically heated soils on communal nesting grounds. When the chick hatches and emerges from the underground nest, it runs or flies to the nearest forest.

Fast Facts

  • The area contains Bogani Nani Wartabone National Park, which was established in 1991 and renamed in honor of Nani Wartabone, a local resistance fighter during World War II.
  • Almost all of Sulawesi’s endemic mammals and birds are found within the Bogani Nani Wartabone forests. 
  • Sulawesi is located in the transitional zone between two continents—Asia and Australasia—in the area known as “Wallacea,” named after Sir Alfred Russel Wallace.

Challenges

The major threats to the park come from wildlife poaching for food and trade, illegal logging, encroaching cultivation, mining, and over-harvesting of non-timber products. Maleo in particular are very vulnerable, as poachers harvest their eggs for food.

WCS Responds

Since 2001, WCS has worked closely with local partners, including villages, governments, and the national park authority. Our work includes developing collaborative management of the national park, promoting environmentally beneficial alternative livelihoods, and combating illegal exploitation of wildlife. Since 2003, we have actively managed three of the biggest communal maleo nesting grounds in the area. In 2009, we teamed up with a local environmental group to purchase and protect a 36-acre stretch of beach on the southern border of the Bogani Nani Wartabone forest, which contains one of the last known beach nesting maleo sites. Through our educational outreach programs, many nearby villagers have changed their attitudes toward the birds and now support their protection.

WCS Projects

Studying Maleos in the Zoo and the Field

Found only on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi—and at the Bronx Zoo—the maleo is an endangered and totally unique bird. The Bronx Zoo Bird Department and WCS-Indonesia have worked together to document its unusual nesting behaviors. Their teamwork has helped to protect the species and its nesting grounds in the wild.

From the Newsroom

A Cyber Crackdown on the Wildlife TradeFebruary 17, 2011

A growing online black market is creating new demand for items like elephant ivory chopsticks, tiger claws and whiskers, and wallets made from clouded leopard skin. WCS’s Wildlife Crime Unit is working with Indonesian authorities to investigate the illegal Internet trade.

Rare Birds Get Private BeachMay 13, 2009

WCS helps buy an exclusive stretch of sand on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi, where the endangered maleo lays its giant eggs. The beach is also a haven for sea turtles.

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