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Blue-fronted Lorikeet: Between Exist and Not Exist

The Blue-fronted Lorikeet is a mysterious bird endemic to Buru Island. This species was discovered by a Tuban-borned entomologist named Lambertus Johannes Toxopeus. He was a teacher with loads of field experience, especially when joining the Archbold Expedition to Papua New Guinea in 1938. The Latin name of the Blue-fronted Lorikeet (Charmosyna toxopei) was taken after his.

Toxopeus was the first to meet and take specimens of the Blue-fronted Lorikeet, and left us with unsolved mysteries to this very day. For years, despite many surveys taken, the population of this species is still unidentified. Most likely, the population is very small and continues to decline as the quality and area of the habitat decreases.

This species, according to Taxopeus, has a very limited population distribution—probably only on western part of the riverside in Rana Highland—because its local name, utu papua, is unfamiliar to the people on the other side of Buru Island.

Intensive searches were conducted by Burung Indonesia (BirdLife International-Indonesia Programme) in Kelapat Mada Mountain and Rana Lake in 1995, and in the central to northeast part of Buru Island and Kayeli Bay in 1996 . The traces of information that were scattered at that time only came from two hunters who reported having caught the bird for food while they were around Lake Rana in the northeast.

The name utu papua was only known by the people who live on the western shores of Lake Rana. According to the Birdlife International database about endangered birds in Asia, in 1990’s people of western shores of Lake Rana often saw Blue-fronted Lorikeets eating nectar and pollen from flowering trees. This species was also reported to be commonly found in the mountain area between their village and Lake Rana, not far from the location described by Taxopeus.

The very rare encounter with Blue-fronted Lorikeet for a long time makes the population size of this species quite difficult to estimate. According to information released by the The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), in November 2014 two individual Blue-fronted Lorikeets were caught by the camera, indicating its population is very small and the reduction of its habitat area and quality is still occurring. For these reasons, IUCN described the Blue-fronted Lorikeet to Critically Endangered-CR status, along with other 27 birds in Indonesia.

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Important fact: Out of 10.000 bird species in the world, Indonesia is a home for 1.769 wild birds. Discovering the various types of birds and their services for the environment is a way of appreciating the biodiversity richness of Indonesia.