The cockatoo is the "Species of the year 2017"

Almost all representatives of this friendly bird family are highly endangered in their natural habitat and urgently need help. That is why we have selected the cockatoo for the “Species of the Year” campaign and would like to contribute to the conservation of these endangered birds by funding conservation projects.

The species conservation project "Species of the year 2017 - the cockatoo"

Most people are not aware that many of these fascinating birds are highly endangered in their population. Because while some species live in numerous households as family members other subspecies of the cockatoo are even acutely threatened with extinction. The friendly animals are particularly at risk due to illegal bird trapping and the destruction of their habitat.

Cockatoos occur naturally only in Australasia and therefore only have a relatively small geographical distribution area. The most northern range of the cockatoos is the Philippine island of Luzon, the southernmost habitat is Tasmania which is part of Australia. The habitats of the different cockatoos are very different and range from the wet savannah to mangrove forests to tropical and subtropical rainforests.

With the cockatoo as "Species of the year" the project partners want to make a commitment specifically for the conservation of these animals on site. Help us do that!

Indonesian conservation project

The yellow-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea) lives on the Indonesian island of Sumba. The Orange-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata) is a subspecies of the Yellow-cheeked Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea) and one of the most endangered cockatoos in the world. Throughout its range, this species is threatened by habitat loss and illegal capture for the international bird trade. There are only a few forest islands left for the birds as retreat areas.

Most of the former populations are now extinct or extremely small. A few years ago the population was still estimated at several thousand animals but according to the latest counts but there are now only a few hundred birds.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) lists the orange hooded cockatoo as critically endangered. It is therefore urgently necessary to identify the last viable populations of the six subspecies and to take appropriate steps to protect them.

The largest remaining occurrence of the orange crested cockatoos is on Sumba - an Indonesian island. Although the core habitat there is largely protected from deforestation and illegal capturing the stocks are not recovering as expected. Also only very limited breeding successes could be observed in recent years. Cockatoos abandoned nesting caves that now inhabit other animal species and bones of cockatoo offspring were found. The causes of this must be urgently investigated.

After various conservation measures for the yellow-cheeked cockatoo had already been initiated in Indonesia in 1992 a project team supported by Burung Indonesia (BirdLife Indonesia) and the Manupeu Tanadaru National Park started more recent field research in 2015.

Philippines conservation project

The kalangay (Cacatua haematuropygia) lives in forest areas of the Philippine Islands and is therefore the most widespread northern cockatoo. In the early 1990s kalangays were still widespread on all major and many smaller islands in the Philippines. The total population in the wild was estimated at between 1000 and 4000 individuals. Nowadays kalangays only occur in 2% of their original habitat.

In order to guarantee the conservation of the endangered parrot a conservation project was launched in 1998 by the Katala Foundation on the Philippine island of Palawan.

At the beginning of the project the cockatoo population of this island consisted of only 23 birds. The main reason for the strong population decimation is the lucrative illegal trade as caged birds for which the cockatoo chicks are removed from every nest found and sold on markets.

Other threats to the kalangay include the destruction of coastal habitats and persecution as alleged pests in agriculture.

Through intensive guarding of the nesting trees, training of gamekeepers, feeding the nestlings, educating the local population as well as reforestation projects and release into the former distribution area, the project team again succeeded in increasing the population to over 260 individuals.

The recruitment of the former poachers as project staff was essential for this recovery. The local poor smallholders who took the young birds out of their nests each year were offered jobs to work as a team. Now the former "nest robbers" take care of the protection of the young birds and enrich the project with their knowledge of the location of the nesting caves and how to raise the young.

More information is available on the Species of the Year homepage

Species of the year 2017 - press conference

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Press conference at Karlsruhe Zoo: "Zoo animal of the year 2017" - the cockatoo is presented.