There was an interesting article by Greg Roberts on the Woodford's Rail on
the Herald Sun on line news this morning.
It reads as follows:
"By Greg RobertsAugust 17 2002
The silver lining on the cloud that was the 10-year Bougainville civil war
comes in he unlikely form of a small, flightless waterbird.In a remarkable
twist of fate, the conflict on the Papua New Guinean island has brought the
Woodford's rail back from the brink of extinction The rail was one of the
world's rarest birds. It was thought to be extinct on Bougainville and on
Guadalcanal, in the adjacent Solomon Islands. A tiny population had survived
on the only other place it was known, Santa Isabel Island, also in the
Solomons.In 1998 the ceasefire brokered by New Zealand ended the conflict
between the Bougainville Revolutionary Army, which was seeking independence,
and the PNG Defence Force.The following year, Don Hadden, a New Zealand
teacher and ornithologist, arrived in the former Bougainville capital of
Arawa for a stint as a volunteer aid worker.
Locals told him about a strange black bird around town. Mr Hadden had lived
there before but had not seen any such bird.
"This time it wasn't long before I saw these birds running across the road
everywhere I went. I asked my students to catch me one. Then I had a beaming
grade 10 student on my doorstep holding a very lively, very angry black
rail. There was no doubt I was holding the presumed-extinct Woodford's
During the conflict, fields and plantations on the coastal plains were
unattended, allowing the proliferation of native grasses.
Extensive stands of three-metre-high "elephant grass" provided an ideal
habitat for the secretive rails, which are now so numerous they can be seen
foraging among the ruins of torched buildings.
"It really is quite an extraordinary tale of survival," Mr Hadden said.
"There must have been a few birds hanging on somewhere all that time that
nobody knew about."
But the bird's future is uncertain if grass-cutting resumes. "We can only
hope that measures are put in place to ensure they continue to survive and
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