Cacatua haematuropygia


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Cacatua haematuropygia
Species Authority: (Müller, 1776)
Common Name(s):
English Philippine Cockatoo, Red-vented Cockatoo
Spanish Cacatúa de Cola Sangrante

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered A2bcd ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2013-11-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S.
Contributor(s): Widmann, P.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Derhé, M., Lowen, J., Stattersfield, A., Symes, A., Taylor, J. & Khwaja, N.
This species qualifies as Critically Endangered because it has suffered an extremely rapid population reduction owing to extensive loss of its lowland habitats and trapping for the cagebird trade. Now that it is extinct in much of its historic range and some protected populations are increasing the rate of decline may have slowed; however, the bulk of the past declines are believed to have occurred within the past three generations thus its current classification remains warranted.

2012 Critically Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Cacatua haematuropygia is endemic to the Philippines. In 1950, it was common throughout but a rapid decline has left a population of c560-1,150 birds (P. Widmann in litt. 2012). Of these, there are 440-700 on Palawan and its satellite islands, "several hundred" or 100-300 in Sulu, it is possibly extinct on Mindanao, and there are fewer than 20 individuals recorded in the Polillo group of islands and Samar respectively. Subpopulations away from Palawan and the Sulus are mainly tiny and have few long-term prospects. Conservation efforts are underway at five sites; including on Rasa Island near Narra, Palawan, where the population increased from 20 in 1998 to over 200 in 2008 and 280 individuals by 2012 (Widmann and Widmann 2008, Anon. 2010, P. Widmann in litt. 2012) and a record breeding season in 2011 saw 75 young banded; since start of a nest protection scheme on Pandanan in 2008 the cockatoo population increased from c. 40 birds to 110 (P. Widmann in litt. 2012); but elsewhere declines have continued.

Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number 370-770 mature individuals, roughly equivalent to 550-1,200 individuals in total (P. Widmann in litt. 2012).
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: It appears to be restricted to lowland primary and/or secondary forest predominantly below 50 m, in or adjacent to riverine or coastal areas with mangroves. It breeds between January and July, and outside the breeding season it frequents both corn and rice fields. It depends on seasonally fluctuating food resources and is partially nomadic. Birds fly from the mainland to offshore islands as far as 8 km away from the mainland to roost and breed. The species is able to utilise regenerating forest for foraging and, if suitable trees are present, breeding (P. Widmann in litt. 2012).

Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): On Palawan, Polillo and Samar, trapping is particularly serious, and the high price fetched per bird (c.US$160 in Manila in 1997 and US$300 in 2006) means that chicks are taken from virtually every accessible nest. High numbers were (legally) traded internationally in the 1980s (e.g. 422 in 1983). Poaching of nestlings and snares possibly intended for roosting cockatoos have also been noted during recent conservation work on Pandanan Island. During nest monitoring on Pandanan, illegal tree cutting was also documented (Anon. 2010). Lowland deforestation and mangrove destruction have been extensive throughout its range, and have contributed significantly to its decline. It is also persecuted as a crop-pest and hunted for food. Typhoons are a threat, at least in already declining populations. Very dry breeding seasons may lead to complete breeding failure. The release of captive birds may introduce disease into the wild population. Introduced predators represent a threat at many potential release sites. Recent attempts to establish a large-scale biofuel plantation in cockatoo habitats on Dumaran, and a coal-fired power plant in the immediate vicinity of Rasa Island (which held c.280 individuals in 2012), were only prevented by major advocacy campaigns and remain potential threats (P. Widmann in litt. 2013).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
CITES Appendix I (1992). It is known from five protected areas: Rasa Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Omoi and Manambaling Cockatoo Reserves in Dumaran, Culasian Managed Resource Protected Area in Rizal and Samar Island Natural Park. Since 1998 an intensive species conservation programme, the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Program (PCCP) has been implemented by the Katala Foundation. In 2005, the Katala Foundation started to plan and build the Katala Institute for Ecology and Biodiversity Conservation, designed as a centre for environmental education and research, as well as possibly serving a role as a facility for the captive breeding of C. haematuropygia. By 2009, a number of the buildings and facilities at the institute had been completed (Schoppe et al. 2009). Three protected areas have been specifically created for the species in Palawan on Rasa Island, Dumaran and Rizal. Conservation efforts on Rasa Island recovered a small population from 25 individuals to over 200 by July 2008 (Widmann and Widmann 2008) and c.280 in 2012 (P. Widmann in litt. 2012). Poachers have been trained as wildlife wardens and were provided with alternative sources of income. This turned out to be the single most effective activity to prevent poaching and was repeated in three other project sites. 
Awareness campaigns have been conducted on Mindanao, Palawan and Polillo. Trilingual conservation posters have been distributed nationwide. The Katala Pride Campaign launched on Dumaran Island has focused on raising awareness among students and farmers (Anon. 2005). In 1992, an international captive-breeding programme was initiated, with 39 birds kept under the European Studbook in 2007 (P. Widmann in litt. 2008). In 2005, drought caused the starvation of 15 chicks, so 10 chicks were hand-reared for an experimental translocation (Widmann and Widmann 2005). An extreme drought in 2010, possibly worse than that in 2005, resulted in only 15 of 25 nests on Rasa producing a total of 24 young, of which only five survived until late April and were rescued for supplementary feeding. Supplemental food and water were provided for adult birds on Rasa to mitigate the effects of the drought (Anon. 2010). Currently, sites are assessed and tested for their suitability for translocation. A first attempt on a resort island in northern Palawan indicated that rescued hand-raised birds can adapt well to natural conditions (foraging, predator avoidance), but was terminated owing to problems caused by tameness. Conservation efforts started in 2010 at a new project site on Pandanan Island to the south of Palawan (Anon. 2010), where recent surveys confirmed the presence of a viable population (Widmann and Lacerna-Widmann 2009). At least 15 nestlings have been ringed and successfully fledged, with one brood requiring supplementary feeding, and potential nest-trees continue to be monitored. Meetings, focus groups and other events have been held to engage local communities, and alternative income sources are being promoted to reduce trapping pressure (Anon. 2010). Experimental habitat restoration has been initiated at Dumaran and one mainland site in Palawan. A project to identify suitable reintroduction sites and to create necessary conditions for reintroduction (e.g. legal, social acceptance, site preparation) was initiated in 2012 (P. Widmann in litt. 2012).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct surveys on all range islands to assess the species's population size and distribution. Monitor population trends. Monitor rates of habitat loss and degradation. Quantify levels of trapping, persecution and trade. Designate further protected areas (e.g. Tawitawi and localities on or near to Palawan). Support the proposed expansion of St Paul's Subterranean National Park. Prevent further mangrove destruction. Promote economically viable alternatives to cockatoo-trapping. Continue education programmes and captive breeding programmes. Establish staffed posts at airports and ferry terminals. Conduct translocation into suitable (well-protected, intact) lowland forest or mangrove habitats.

Citation: BirdLife International 2013. Cacatua haematuropygia. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <>. Downloaded on 25 July 2014.
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