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Range DescriptionColumba argentina appears to have a highly restricted range, with historical records suggesting that it at least formerly occurred on islands off Sumatra, Indonesia (e.g. Simeulue, Mentawi Islands, Riau and Lingga archipelagos), and off the west coast of Sarawak, Malaysia and Kalimantan, Indonesia (e.g the Karimata and Natuna Islands, including Burong). There is one confirmed historical record each from mainland Sumatra and Kalimantan. There were previously no confirmed reports since 1931, and reports from South Sumatra province and Pulau Talang Besar in the Talang Talang Islands in 2001 were treated as provisional (Wilson 2004). However, in 2008 one individual was photographed between the islets of Masokut Island and Simaimu Islands, off the southern tip of Siberut in the Mentawai Islands, Indonesia, confirming that the species survives in the wild (Lee et al. 2009). This record was followed by at least one other sighting on Siberut of two birds that were possibly this species, in January 2009 (Verbelen 2010).
Unequivocal evidence that the species persists on Simeulue came in the form of at least three birds photographed in late December 2010 (J. Eaton in litt. 2010, Eaton 2011, Eaton and Rossouw 2011). There is also a photograph of two captive individuals in Hong Kong, and pictures of a small flock of birds, potentially C. argentina, from the Sembilang National Park in 2008 (Anon 2009, M. Iqbal in litt. 2009, Iqbal 2010). Interviews with 20 local people near the Merang-Kepayang River (South Sumatra), in August 2009, produced one possible record (Iqbal 2010). There is also a report of a single bird in peatswamp forest at Berbak National Park (Jambi province, Sumatra) from February 2011 (M. Iqbal in litt. 2012). A further three individuals were observed (but no photographs obtained) on Bojo islet, Batu islands (off the west coast of Sumatra between Nias and Siberut) in January 2011 (Eaton and Rossouw 2011).
Given the difficulty in distinguishing C. argentina from the sympatric Ducula bicolor, it is likely that C. argentina has been overlooked in previous surveys for the species (Lee et al. 2009). Following the documentation of key differences between the two species (Yong 2009), it is likely that further surveys will result in the discovery of remnant populations.