Pondering the Pawi

By Chouthi, Sandra | Americas (English Edition), January 1999 | Go to article overview

Pondering the Pawi


Chouthi, Sandra, Americas (English Edition)


The pawi, or Trinidad piping guan, is so rarely seen that many Trinidadians thought its existence was more myth. But, thanks to the efforts of forester Ken Fournillier, the plight of the pawi, which resembles a wild turkey, is now well known on the island.

Fournillier, a forester for nearly three decades, wasn't always so familiar with the pawi, and in fact, he too thought the bird was part of local folklore. "People hardly knew of the pawi until the 1980s, when Dr. Carol James [then head of the Wildlife Division of the Ministry of Agriculture, Land, and Marine Affairs] undertook to identify it in north and south Trinidad. Her research staff conducted interviews with old hunters and rediscovered populations in northeast Trinidad and in the Trinity Hills."

Hunted faster than it was able to multiply, and rapidly losing its preferred habitat of pristine forests and fresh water, the pawi, which is endemic to Trinidad, has been listed as endangered since the early 1980s, although there are not much formal data on its numbers.

A large, striking bird, the pawi (Pipile pipile) weighs between five and a half and seven pounds and has a wingspan of up to two feet. …

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