ESS - Aburria pipile/Pipile pipile (Trinidad Piping-guan/Pawi)

Aburria pipile/Pipile pipile (Trinidad Piping-guan) (Pawi)
The pawi is classified as an Environmentally Sensitive Species in Trinidad and Tobago.
2007 IUCN Red List Category – Critically endangered


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Galliformes
Family: Cracidae
Genus: Aburria
Species: A. pipile (also called Pipile pipile) (Jacquin, 1784)


Identification: The pawi usually reaches around 65 cm in length and is a black-and-white cracid. Aburria pipile is mainly blackish-brown with a faint purplish gloss. The large crest is blackish, edged with white, and there are large white wing patches. The bare face and wattle are blue, and the legs are red. The pawi has extensive white tips to wing-coverts. They have a thin piping voice and usually, in display, make a rattling whirr with wings.

The pawi feeds on fruits in the canopy of remote lower and upper montane rainforest, preferring steep, hilly areas with numerous streams, sparse ground-cover, a closed canopy and abundant lianas and epiphytes. Most records are at elevations of 400-900 m, but it still occurs in areas as low as 50 m. It is known to occur in secondary vegetation and cultivated land near to primary forest, and formerly occurred in semi-evergreen forest.

The Blue-throated Piping-guan is species' closest living relative.

Reproduction: They are forest birds, and the nest is built in a tree. Three large white eggs are laid, with the only the female incubating.

Unfortunately, little information is known about the seasonality of breeding and the location of nesting sites of the pawi.


Population estimate: 70 - 200
Population trend: Decreasing
Range estimate: 260 km2 (breeding/resident)
Country endemic: Yes
Range: Pipile pipile was once abundant throughout the Northern Range and the southern Trinity Hills, and also in lowland areas such as the Nariva Swamp and Aripo Savannahs. It is now extinct in the lowland areas, and almost certainly extinct in the Trinity Hills (surveys have failed to find the species since 1994), and the western end of the Northern Range, east to the Arima-Blanchisseuse Road. The only extant population is in the eastern portion of the Northern Range, where just c.150 km2 of suitable habitat remains.


Illegal hunting and habitat loss/destruction through timber extraction and conversion to plantation agriculture.


Current measures: As identified on the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Appendix I listing, which has been updated as recently as February 2008 – the Pipile pipile has been legally protected since 1963. Much of the present range is within forest reserves and state forests, but the laws protecting both species and areas are generally not enforced. The Matura National Park protects a large area since 2006 when the necessary legislation was passed. Species-specific ecotourism is having a positive effect in the northern area of Grande Riviere, providing financial support for local communities and developing a sense of collective responsibility.

The pawi was listed as one of the highest priorities for action in the Cracid Action Plan for 2000-2004 (Brooks and Strahl, 2000), and both the Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the Wildlife Section of the Division of Forestry have identified the pawi as a species of particular interest. It is one of the first three Environmentally Sensitive Species listed by the EMA.

The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine has been involved with research on the pawi since 2004, as part of a Pawi Study Group (PSG). Kerrie Naranjit did a short study of the habitat use of the pawi as her B.Sc. research project in spring 2005, and was a participant on Project Pawi later that summer. Project Pawi was organised by Aidan Keane, who received a Gold Award from the BP Conservation Programme (BPCP) for this survey of the current distribution of the pawi, in collaboration with the PSG. Kerrie Naranjit was selected to attend the BPCP Training Course (Monitoring and Assessment of Biodiversity Program) at the Smithsonian National Zoological Park Conservation and Research Center, Virginia in June 2005. Subsequently, a grant from the American Bird Conservancy (William Belton Small Grants Fund) and the Conservation International Foundation was obtained by the PSG to continue this work in the form of an M.Phil. studentship. The EMA agreed to provide a stipend for the studentship, and Kerrie Naranjit was appointed and began field work in January 2007. Through her association with Project Pawi, and participation in another BPCP project on the Bloody Bay frog in Tobago in 2006, Kerrie obtained a BPCP Alumnus Grant to attend the Tall Timbers field station in Florida in May 2007. There she received three weeks training in radiotracking and capture of wild galliform birds from Dr. John Carroll and his research group. Many of these initiatives have been facilitated by help from the World Pheasant Association, Fordingbridge, UK.

Proposed measures: There are plans to use radio-telemetry to learn more about the species’ biology. There are also plans to survey areas of historic occurrence to determine its status in these areas as well as monitor the population in areas of known occupancy. Ecological requirements and breeding biology are also to be determined. The protection of current forest reserves are to be more stringently enforced. Further education/public awareness campaigns are also to be developed in order to ensure the success of site protection.
References Collar et al. (1992). 1. R. Ffrench in litt. (1998). 2. F. E. Hayes in litt. (1998, 1999). 3. S. Poon in litt. (1998).
Text account compilers Phil Benstead (BirdLife International), John Pilgrim (BirdLife International)
Contributors Richard Ffrench (Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University), Floyd E. Hayes (University of the West Indies), S. Poon (Institute of Natural Resources, Massey University)
IUCN Red List evaluators Stuart Butchart (BirdLife International), John Pilgrim (BirdLife International)
Recommended citation BirdLife International (2007) Species factsheet: Pipile pipile. Downloaded from on 1/4/2008
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, and BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
(BirdLife International, 2000). Temple (1998). Alexander (2002).

Photo credits: Howard Nelson

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