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Macrocephalon maleo


This large, predominantly black and white bird is found on two islands within Indonesia.

In the last 60 years the population has declined by as much as 90%. The primary threat is the harvesting of eggs by the local communities which has led to a number of nesting sites being abandoned.

The Maleo is a communal nester, which is considered to be an evolutionary strategy against egg predation. It regularly nests on sandy beaches, riverbanks and lake shores. Female birds will lay 8–12 eggs over the course of a year. These are laid in a pit which will be warmed either though solar or geothermal heat. These eggs, which are five times larger than a hen’s egg, are left to incubate for 2–3 months with no parental supervision. When the eggs hatch the young will tunnel to the surface and be ready to fly, requiring no parental care whatsoever.

The population is estimated at somewhere between 8,000–14,000 mature individuals. The Maleo has been protected under Indonesian law since 1972 and half of the current nesting sites are within protected areas, though its population is still regarded as declining. A small number of these locations receive conservation attention such as guard patrols which have led to an increase in hatch rates. Community engagement projects have been delivered to educate local people about the impacts of egg harvesting and a number of former ‘egg diggers’ are now employed as guards.

  • Order: Galliformes
  • Family: Megapodiidae
  • Population: 12,000-21,000
  • Trend: decreasing
  • Size: 55-60cm

EDGE Score

EDGE Score: 5.59 (?)
ED Score: 32.45 (?)
GE / IUCN Red List (?)
Not Evaluated Data Deficient Least Concern Near Threatened Vulnerable Endangered Critically Endangered Extinct in the Wild Extinct


Endemic to Sulawesi and the Buton Islands in Indonesia

Habitat and Ecology

This species inhabits lowland and hill rainforest up to an altitude just over 1,000 m. When travelling to coastal nesting grounds the Maleo will travel though some man-modified habitats. They nest communally on beaches, river banks or lake shores. They feed mainly on fruits, seeds, ants, termites, beetles, molluscs and other small invertebrates.

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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).

Urban development Crops Mining Roads / Rail Hunting Logging Work

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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