The Parrot Society has kindly donated towards the conservation of the Philippine Red-Vented Cockatoo Cacatua haematuropygia, part of our new EDGE bird project in the Philippines, helping us to save this beautiful bird from extinction. John Hayward came to ZSL’s London Zoo to hand over the cheque to Nisha Owen, the EDGE of Existence programme’s Conservation Biologist, who has been developing this project.
Once widespread and common throughout the Philippine archipelago, this spectacular cockatoo has declined rapidly since 1950, due to extensive loss of lowland habitats and poaching for the captive bird trade. Having been driven to extinction in much of its historic range, the wild population is now estimated at just 560-1,150 birds. We intend to develop conservation efforts for the population on the islands in the Visayas region where no initiatives currently exist, based on some of the successful activities that the Katala Foundation (www.philippinecockatoo.org) have been undertaking to preserve this species on the island of Palawan.
The Philippines archipelago is one of the world’s biologically richest countries, though impacted by historical logging and growing pressures from agriculture and development from population growth. It is an EDGE conservation priority, with at least 11 EDGE bird species, making it a hotspot of unique avian diversity. The activities funded by the Parrot Society will form part of a wider ZSL project which aims to conserve multiple EDGE birds through mobilising community-led conservation efforts in disaster-hit regions of the Philippines, with the Philippine cockatoo as a flagship.
Following on from the recent workshop held by ZSL Philippines to bring together bird researchers, practitioners, and government officials, (find out more about this in Heather’s blog https://www.edgeofexistence.org/edgeblog/?p=7764), which identified the important next steps, these funds will allow us to start developing the project further. Our first tasks will be to build on ZSL Philippines world-leading expertise in coastal conservation and habitat restoration to assess the cockatoo’s mangrove and beach forest habitats, bring together a partnership of local organisations to align our activities for maximum benefit, and to identify important conservation sites and actions for the remaining cockatoos throughout the Visayas. We can’t wait to get started, thanks to the Parrot Society!