Most of what moundbuilders eat comes from the forest floor. These birds feed on fallen fruits, seeds, ants, scorpions, and even small snakes. Although most of this food gets eaten as the birds dig through forest leaf-litter, they do seek out specific types of food, fruit being one of these.
For the first time ever, the threatened Vanuatu (van-wah-TOO) megapode was captured on film by Dr. Mark O'Brien in December 2003. O'Brien, a researcher from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, had visited the Pacific nation of Vanuatu so that he could work with the chief in an effort to determine a way that islanders could still harvest eggs, but in a sustainable way.
According to a press release posted on Birdlife.org, only 2,500 pairs of Vanuatu megapodes remain, and only on the 108
islands of Vanuatu. As a result of O'Brien's visit, the chief initiated a conservation program that included a moratorium (temporary halt) on egg collection that lasted four months. Anyone disobeying the rule was fined $135 or the equivalent in pigs or cattle. And because the species is rarer in the southeastern part of the nation, those communities agreed to a five-year ban on egg collection.
O'Brien acknowledged that another visit to Vanuatu is necessary to learn the effects of the moratorium.
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