PRINCE RUSPOLI’S TURACO (Turaco ruspolii) Wing 180 – 184 mm

Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco is known in the literature from two areas in southern Ethiopia in juniper forests with dense evergreen undergrowth: one is at Arero and the other 80 kilometers north of Negele: both localities are 1800 meters (6000 feet) in elevation. This Turaco was first introduced to science when Prince Ruspoli collected it in either 1892 or 1893. Since Prince Ruspoli, an Italian explorer, was killed in an “encounter with an elephant” in the Lake Abaya area and unfortunately did not leave any notes about his travels, the locality and date of collection of the first specimen of this Turaco remain unknown. His Collection was studied by T. Salvadori in 1896 who named the new Turaco in honor of Prince Ruspoli. In subsequent years several other explorers searched for the Turaco; none were successful until the early 1940’s when several specimens were obtained in the Arero forest. After these specimens were obtained, the Turaco was not reported again until very recently, in the last five years, when several have been seen and four collected at the locality north of Negele. This Turaco is considered to be an endangered species and is included in the “Red Book” of endangered animals of the world. However, recent sightings in juniper forests and especially in dry water courses which include figs, the rubiaceous tree, Adina, and undergrowth of acacia and teclea shrubs, suggest that the species may be more common than thought. There are neither breeding records nor any recorded observations on the nesting activities of Prince Ruspoli’s Turaco, its nest and eggs are unknown. It has been reported to feed on fruits of teclea and Aditicl. Its call has been described as a low “chirr – clia” and short “te”.

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