Feb. 15 - Scientists and bird-lovers are celebrating the announcement of a new owl species on the island of Lombok, Indonesia. The Rinjani Scops-owl was discovered in 2003 but has only now been identified as a new species, thanks to its unique voice. Kilmeny Duchardt reports.
It was the distinctive hoot that gave it away. The Rinjani Scops-owl looks like it's Moluccan cousin but scientists say it's an entirely different species. For conservationists, like Hanom Bashari, the discovery was a long time coming. (SOUNDBITE) (Bahasa Indonesia) BIODIVERSITY ANALYST OF BURUNG INDONESIA, HANOM BASHARI, SAYING: "The species was first categorized in 1896 but in 2003 experts found and identified this one as different from Otus Magicus, the Moluccan Scops Owl, a species that can be found in the Moluccas and Nusa Tenggara." Nusa Tenggara is a mountainous province on the Indonesian island of Lombok and home to Mt Rinjani where the bird was first heard. It took ten years to verify their discovery, so the Swedish and U.S. researchers have only now been able to classify the bird as unique species, found only on the island. Indonesia is home to more than 1,500 bird species, but habitat loss has left more than a hundred of those on the brink of extinction. Bishari says the discovery of the Rinjani Scops-owl gives new importance to the need for habitat protection.