Bizarre bird gets private beach

May 18, 2009 7:30:34 AM PDT
A U.S. conservation group says it's bought a beach in Indonesia to help preserve a unique species of threatened birds.

The birds in question are maleos -- chicken-sized creatures known for their helmet-like foreheads. They're also known for being able to fly immediately after hatching.

The Wildlife Conservation Society says it's teamed up with a local environmental group to buy a 36-acre stretch of private beach that holds about 40 maleo nests. The groups paid about $12,500 for the beachfront property on one of Indonesia's 17,000 islands.

Environmentalists say there are, at most, about 10,000 maleos in the wild and they can only be found on this eastern Indonesian island.

The goal is to protect the maleos from their greatest threat: humans. Local villagers often dig up buried maleo eggs and eat them.

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