©Winston D. Munnings
Someone asked where they could buy a pair of Nicobar Pigeons in South Africa. I could see where this would be tempting, these are absolutely gorgeous birds. However, I’m not for people keeping wildlife as pets — both because the demand for animals as pets drives the trapping that is often linked to an animals decline in their natural habitat. Also, many animals have specific requirements that make them well-suited for this particular spot on the globe, adaptations present in the wild that make them a poor choice as a captive animals. Specifically, the Nicobar Pigeon is listed as Near Threatened and trapping them for the pet trade is illegal.
The species is also trapped for the local pet market, but as it is on CITES Appendix I, such trade is generally illegal. Internationally, captive breeding is able to supply the birds demanded by zoos, where this attractive and unusual bird is often seen. Direct exploitation of the species, even including the illegal trade, might be sustainable on its own; however, available nesting habitat is decreasing. For one thing, the offshore islets which it requires are often logged for plantations, destroyed by construction activity, or polluted by nearby industry or harbours. Also, increased travel introduces predators to more and more of the breeding sites, and colonies of the Nicobar Pigeon may be driven to desert such locations or be destroyed outright. Though the bird is widely distributed and in some locations very common – even on small Palau it is still reasonably plentiful, with an estimated 1,000 adult birds remaining –, its long-term future is increasingly being jeopardized. For these reasons, the IUCN considers C. nicobarica a Near Threatened species.
Nicobar Pigeon (back view)
Nicobar Pigeon (front vew)
Nicobar Pigeon (side view)