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Caldoches (New Caledonia)

Last modified: 2010-07-30 by
Keywords: new caledonia | caldoche | sun (red) | bird (yellow) | kagu |
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[Caldoches' flag]

Caldoches' flag - Image by Pascal Vagnat, 8 May 2003


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Presentation of the Caldoches

The Caldoches are the descendants of the European colons. However, not all the Caledonians of European origin accept the word "Caldoche". They consider it as pejorative and prefer to be called "Calédoniens". The word "Caldoche" seems to have been created by Kanak children from the Lifou island. The word was based on "Calédonie" and the pejorative suffix oche. Another origin is given in Mille et un mots Calédoniens: in 1968, Ms. J. Schmidt published articles in the local newspapers signed "Caldoche", Cald refering to "Caledonia" and "oche" refering to "boche", the derogative term used (mostly in the past) in France to designate the Germans. Schmidt remembered having been called sale boche in her youth because of her family origins.
The French living in New Caledonia but not born on the island are not called "Caldoches" but "Zoreilles" (literally, "Z-ears").

Source: University of Laval

Ivan Sache, 8 May 2003


Caldoches' flag

The "Caldoches' flag" is white with a white shield outlined in black. The shield shows a yellow kagu spreading its wings over a green hill and a blue wave. A red sun with twelve rays is placed in the shield canton. It seems that this flag, whose precise status and meaning is unknown, was seen in Caldoche demonstrations during the unrest of the 1990s.

Pascal Vagnat, 8 May 2003

There are 197 species of birds recorded in New Caledonia, among which 23 are endemic, that is not found anywhere else in the wild. The International Union for Nature Conservation (UICN) has listed 17 endemic forest birds of New Caledonia on the Red List of endangered species, which includes 1,211 bird species worldwide. The most famous of them and the emblematic bird of New Caledonia is the kagu.
The kagu (Rhynochetos jubatus) is the only member of the genus Rhynochetos, which is the only member of the family Rhynochetidae. It was trapped by the Melanesians, and later by the Europeans, for pet and plume trade. The bird retreated to the interior of the island, where its habitat was destroyed by nickel mining. The species is now threatened by feral dogs and pigs; predation by cats and rats is not documented. The kagu has full legal protection since 1977. It is believed than less than 1,000 kagus still live in New Caledonia, mostly in the South Province.
Most scientific publications on kagu were made by Dr. Gavin Hunt, now with the Department of Psychology of the University of Auckland, New Zeland and working on tool-making ability in New Caledonian crows. Dr. Hunt worked on bird conservation in New Caledonia from 1991 to 1995 and defended in 1997 in Massey University his Ph.D. Thesis entitled: Ecology and conservation of the Kagu Rhynochetos jubatus of New Caledonia.
He wrote the chapter on kagu in two references books:
Hunt, G.R. (2002). Kagu. In Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia, Vol. 10: Birds. Gale Publishing Group, Farmington Hills, MI.
Hunt, G.R. (1996). Rhynochetidae (Kagu). Pp. 218-225 In (Eds. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J.) Handbook of the Birds of the World, Vol. 3. Hoatzin to Auks. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.

Sources:

Ivan Sache, 13 May 2006

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