Conservation of the Critically Endangered Trinidad piping-guan - Trinidad

The Trinidad piping-guan Pipile pipile, known locally as the Pawi, is the only species of bird that is endemic to the island of Trinidad in the West Indies. Despite its national symbolic prominence, the species is at risk of extinction and is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List and is banned from international trade by Appendix 1 of CITES. In addition, it has been given legal protection by its designation as an Environmental Sensitive Species by the Environment Management Authority (EMA) of Trinidad and Tobago, and by the designation of the Matura National Park Environmentally Sensitive Area that encompasses a large part of its known habitat.

The Pawi was fairly common in the 20th century and was found throughout the country in dense forests from the mountains to sea level. However it now seems to be restricted to the eastern portion of the Northern Range where it inhabits both dense forest and disturbed habitats. The drastic decline in range has been accompanied by a population decline, with the latest estimate at less than 200 individuals. The decline is believed to be many due to increasing habitat destruction and disturbance, and illegal hunting.

WPA supported projects:

Project commenced: 2004
Partners: WPA and University of West Indies

Due to the status of the Trinidad piping-guan and the decreasing population size, it was listed as one of the highest priorities in the Cracid Action Plan for 2000-2004. Therefore WPA launched a new initiative to address the conservation needs of the species and gain more knowledge on the current range, population size and pressures. 


  • survey the Northern Hills to identify the most significant areas and identify current pressures
  • provide information on ecology and behaviour, and on the health of wild populations
  • determine perceptions of local people towards the Pawi
  • develop conservation actions with appropriate agencies and partners

Searches for Pawi were carried out in numerous locations and questionnaires were used to find out information from local people about distribution and behaviour. The public perceptions of the Pawi showed that tourism in some regions entered on the Pawi and leatherback turtles, and was very important for the local economy. This was an important finding for the production of management plans and educational material.

In 2006 a Pawi workshop took place to bring together the practical experience of local people and the scientific studies of academics and research workers in order to promote the conservation of the Pawi and the leatherback turtle and to explore the contributions to the economy and society.

Project commenced: 2007
Partners: WPA, EMA, University of West Indies, Pawi Study Group and American Bird Conservancy

This was a two year project to assess the ecology and behaviour of the Pawi. The project represented the first continuous study of a single-population of Pawi, assessing diet, habitat preferences and use, reproduction ecology and the dynamics of the group. This information was collected by field observations on the Pawi sub-population in the Grande Riviera area, which consists of the Matura Environmentally Sensitive Area, and secondary and recovering forests.

The results of the project added to the knowledge on the ecology and behaviour of the Pawi, however gas still remain. Continued research and increasing the awareness of this species will allow the development and implementation of a successful recovery plan.

Outcomes from the projects

 As awareness of the plight of the Pawi increases, local support for its conservation is growing. Several local groups such as the Pawi Study Group and The Guardian Life Wildlife Trust understand the need to keep working to save this species and have committed to education, awareness and capacity building programmes aimed at the long-term conservation of the species. It is hoped a detailed management plan along with increased local recognition of the need to protect the paw, will increase the recovery chances of this species and allow it to persevere in the future. 

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