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Rhynochetos jubatus


The Kagu is a highly unusual, almost flightless bird, which due to its startling ash-white plumage is known locally as the ‘ghost of the forest’.

The only representative of an entire taxonomic family, the Kagu resembles something between a small heron and a rail. It only shares its taxonomic order with one other species, which is also the only representative of its family, the sunbittern. The Kagu has a large crest, long legs, and a peculiar ‘bark’, which can be heard over a mile away. They are highly territorial, engaging in sometimes fierce confrontations accompanied by shrill screams. This species is endemic to Grand Terre, the largest island of New Caledonia and has been adopted as the national emblem. The Kagu experienced a decline in numbers during the 1900s primarily due to predation by invasive species. Following predation by dogs and cats, egg loss from pigs and rats, and habitat loss the Kagu is now listed as Endangered.

  • Order: Eurypygiformes
  • Family: Rhynochetidae
  • Population: < 2000
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 55 cm
  • Weight: 700-1100g

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 6.11 (?)
ED Score: 55.38 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


This species is endemic to the French overseas territory of New Caledonia, where it is found on Grand Terre, the largest of the islands and the only mountainous one.

Habitat and Ecology

This species is a practically flightless, ground-dwelling bird. They feed mostly on worms, snails, millipedes, insects and small lizards, which they finds picking through the leaf litter. The Kagu occurs in a range of forest habitats, typically those that are dense and humid, although drier forests at low altitude are occupied within the centre of the island. During the wet season this species occasionally extends its range into closed-canopy scrub.

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Conservation Actions

For each key category of conservation action, we calculated a conservation attention score based on expert information. In this graph, a higher score means the action is being carried out more intensively over more of the species range. The colour shows how important each action is considered to be for the conservation of this species.

Engaging stakeholders
Addressing threats
Status of knowledge
Management plan
Capacity building
Behaviour change
Awareness raising
  Score: 100 means the activity occurs at high level across more than 75% of the species range
Very Low

Overall Conservation Attention

We combined all of the expert information on conservation actions to calculate an overall conservation attention score for this species. Please help us to reach our goal of establishing dedicated conservation attention at “High” levels for all EDGE species.

Very Low Low Medium High

More information

Recent studies have grouped all possible conservation activities for any species into nine key categories (Washington et. al 2015). For each action, we asked experts for each species to assess the extent to which that action is being carried out and how much of the species’ range that action occurs in. For each action we used these two pieces of information to calculate the conservation attention score per action. A score of 100 means that the action is being carried out to a high level across at least 75% of the species range. We then combined the scores for all actions into an overall conservation attention score for the species. The experts also judged how important each category was to the conservation of that particular species.

This wordcloud illustrates the threats facing this species. The size of each word indicates the extent of a species range that is affected by that threat (larger size means a greater area is affected). The colour of the word indicates how much that threat impacts the species (darker shades of red mean the threat is more severe).

Crops Mining Logging Fire Invasive species

Threat wordcloud key:

Small area affected
Large area affected
Least severe
Most severe
Severity unknown
Source: The IUCN List of Threatened Species. Version 2017.1.
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