The maleo (Macrocephalon maleo), an endangered bird endemic to Sulawesi, Indonesia, lays a single gigantic egg in a hole that is then incubated solely by the geothermal heat in the sand or soil. Maleo eggs are prized as a high-status delicacy and are frequently dug up to be eaten or sold illegally online, consequently pushing maleo populations into rapid decline. Two community-led projects that protect maleo nesting grounds from poaching and ensure maleos can nest naturally have reported the first sustained increases in maleo numbers due to conservation efforts. The projects have quadrupled and tripled local maleo numbers over a 14-year and five-year period, respectively, and experts are calling for other maleo conservation projects across Sulawesi to adopt this community-led, low-intervention method. The sound of scuffling from the tangled undergrowth enclosing a secluded sandy coastal clearing heralds a curious event. Two chicken-sized maleos ( Macrocephalon maleo ) emerge and make their way to the open sand of their communal nesting ground. With primal vigor, the pair dig a deep hole in which the female lays one gigantic egg, the size of a grapefruit. They kick the sand back to cover it up and depart, their parental responsibilities fulfilled. This […]

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