Feb 1

We’ve asked conservation organisations around the world to nominate a species that they believe to be overlooked, underappreciated and unloved, and tell us why they think that they deserve a fair share of the limelight, this Valentine’s Day.

Each nominee’s story is featured on the Arkive blog with information on the species, what makes them so special, the conservation organisation that nominated them and how they are working to save them from extinction.

Click the ‘unloved species’ tag above to see all of the nominations and their blogs.

Once you have perused the blogs you can vote for your favourite to help get them into the top ten unloved species and get them the recognition that they truly deserve! Share your favourite with others using the #LoveSpecies hashtag on Twitter and Facebook and tell them why they should vote for them too. Voting closes on February 14th at 23:59 PST (07:59 GMT).

Join us and our conservation partners in celebrating and raising awareness for some of the world’s most unloved species this Valentine’s Day!

Species: Southern crowned pigeon

Nominated by: Cool Earth

Conservation status: Vulnerable

Why do you love it? The word ‘pigeon’ doesn’t usually stir the imagination or excite people. But this is no ordinary pigeon. The southern crowned pigeon is a statuesque and beautiful blue and maroon bird, with a bright red iris and spectacular crested crown. Along with the closely related Victoria crowned pigeon, it is the largest pigeon in the world at approximately 73cm long.

Apart from its striking appearance and record-breaking size, the species is very important for the health of the forest that Cool Earth are working to protect. As a ground feeding omnivore, that tends to feed in groups, its droppings provide a great source of nutrients for vegetation to grow and it disperses seeds from the fruits that it eats, vital for the natural cycle of growth of Papua New Guinea’s endemic rainforest plants.

What are the threats to the southern crowned pigeon? Historically, this species could be found along the entire length of the southern lowland forests of New Guinea. Due to forest degradation and hunting it is now only found in a small confined subpopulation in the Orangerie Bay Forest area, where our partnership is located.

The biggest threat to the species is the conversion of native forest into palm oil plantations. The advance of palm oil is turning the pigeon’s natural habitat into a destructive monoculture that doesn’t support the pigeon or any of the other species living there.

What are you doing to save it? Last year Cool Earth launched a partnership with three villages in the rainforest of the Eastern tip of Papua New Guinea. We’re supporting them to protect their rainforest and develop sustainable livelihoods from forest produce. We’re also implementing a community education programme to raise awareness about biodiversity and forest health.

We’ve employed a community-led team from these villages to implement a biodiversity survey of the 180,000 acres of the community-owned forest that we are helping to protect. The survey is particularly focusing on monitoring the population of the southern crowned pigeon so we can understand the current status of the species in the area, and to assess how our project impacts the species population over the coming years. Amongst other survey methods we’ll be using camera traps.

Through workshops with the community and with the school children in the villages, we’ll involve the community in the project. The workshops will also to help develop sustainable hunting practices and increase knowledge of the ecology of the forest for conservation.

Find out more about Cool Earth’s work with the southern crowned pigeon

Discover more pigeon and dove species on Arkive