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Home > News & Events > MAARSianChronicles > Issue 13: August 2005 > Did You Know?: Extinction is Not Just for Dinosaurs

Did You Know?


Seram (Moluccan) Cockatoos shortly after their confiscation from smugglers by Forestry Officers on Seram Island, Indonesia.

(Photo by Tex Hankey)

Extinction is Not Just for Dinosaurs

by Dr. Stewart Metz, Indonesian Parrot Project, and Eileen McCarthy, MAARS Executive Director

Indonesian cockatoos — and other native animals — continue to be at risk of future extinction despite local law and international treaties. Conservation efforts can only be successful on the rare occasion when resources, legal protection and enforcement, cooperation between governmental agencies, field biologists, researchers, and the local human population converge to address the complex, multi-dimensional issues that threaten the species in question.

In Indonesia — as in many countries where threatened species are endemic — poverty, civil unrest, a lack of resources, under-developed national infrastructure, and the practical challenge of enforcing wildlife and habitat protections on as many as 18,000 islands, present formidable obstacles to the success of conservation efforts.



The Moluccan Cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis, also called Seram or Salmon-crested Cockatoo) is now found naturally in the wild only on the Island of Seram, Indonesia; it is extinct on the Islands Saparua and Haruka which were once part of the species' natural range.




The total wild population of Moluccan Cockatoos on the Island of Seram is estimated at only 70,000 to 100,000 birds.




Nearly 70,000 Moluccan Cockatoos were legally exported between 1983 and 1990 before the Moluccan Cockatoo was listed on CITES Appendix I as critically endangered (threatened with extinction) and, therefore, protected from unrestricted international trade.




The Citron Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea citronocristata), a sub-species of the Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea, also called the Yellow-crested Cockatoo) naturally inhabits only the Island of Sumba, Indonesia.




About 80–90% of forest adequate for the survival of the Citron Cockatoo on the Island of Sumba has been destroyed.




A study conducted in 1993 estimated the wild population of Citron Cockatoos to be as low as 2,500 individuals.




The Goffin's Cockatoo (Cacatua goffini) was listed on CITES Appendix I, which prohibits the export of the species, in 1992. From 1983 to 1989, 52,000 Goffin's Cockatoos were recorded in international trade.




The legal quota for the capture of wild Umbrella Cockatoos (Cacatua alba) is zero.




In 2004, the Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (including the Citron Cockatoo) was placed on CITES Appendix I which greatly restricts the capture and international commercial trade of listed species.




At least one estimate states that 60–70% of logging activities in Indonesia constitute illegal logging.




Logging, wet rice cultivation, and illegal trapping continue to pose real threats to the wild populations of Moluccan Cockatoos on Seram and Citron Cockatoos on Sumba.




At least 15,000 parrots are trapped annually from the Northern half of the Moluccan Islands alone. This estimate includes more than 1,600 Umbrella Cockatoos, 4,800 Chattering Lories (Lorius garrulous), 7,700 Violet-necked Lories (Eos squamata) from just two suppliers. Many of these birds are trapped in violation of Indonesian law and/or CITES.




At the major Indonesian bird markets, an estimated 1,600 Black-capped Lories (Lorius lory), 980 Red Lories (Eos bornea), 180 Goffin's Cockatoos (Cacatua goffini), 320 Triton and Eleanora Cockatoos (Cacatua galerita triton and Cacatua galerita eleonora) and 700 Lesser Sulphur-crested Cockatoos might be traded annually.




On Seram Island, one principal broker might have 20–50 Moluccan Cockatoos, 200 Red Lories, and 350 Rainbow Lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) in her possession at any one time, although legal trapping quotas for Moluccan Cockatoos and Red Lories are zero.




A single trapper can capture up to 16 cockatoos per month within the bounds of Manusela National Park where the birds are supposed to be protected.




The price paid to trappers by brokers for illegally captured Moluccan Cockatoos has risen from about $5 to about $25 over the past several years, as it has become harder to find and trap the birds. If the bird survives export, a Moluccan Cockatoo might retail in Europe or Asia for 30 to 100 times the price the local broker paid.


"Flying Without Wings," KSBK (now ProFauna Indonesia), May 2002,

"Flying Without Wings (Part II): Investigation by ProFauna Indonesia of Parrot Trapping on Seram Island, Maluku, Indonesia," July 2004,

CITES: How CITES Works (Appendices),

"Determining the Status of the Seram (Salmon-crested) and the Sumba (Citron-crested) Cockatoo: Practice and Pitfalls," Dr. Stewart Metz, Project Bird Watch/Indonesian Parrot Project,

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