Conserva­tion Programme – Philippine Cockatoo

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Formerly found throughout the Philippine archipelago, the endemic Philippine Cockatoo (Cacatua haematuropygia) is close to extinction due to large-scale habitat loss and intense poaching activities. There are estimated to be a maximum of 1,245 individuals, but could well be less than 1,000, with the largest remaining populations today found on Palawan and adjacent smaller islands. a

The long-term goal of the Philippine Cockatoo Conserva­tion Programme (PCCP) is the down-listing of the species from ‘Critically Endangered’, and the main strategy of the programme is to conserve in-situ its remaining viable subpopulations. This is through technical conservation measures, like nest protection, and through active participation and understanding of the local population, especially local decision-makers. Warden schemes remain the single-most important tool to assure the short-term survival and recovery of the species, whereas lobbying, conservation education, habitat restoration and reintroduction, as well as provision of alternative livelihood options are important for the long-term improvement of the conditions for cockatoo conservation in the Philippines.

For 14 years the Loro Parque Fundación has been supporting the Philippine NGO, the Katala Foundation, with a total of US$1.365.168 to run the PCCP. It has done this in partnership with Chester Zoo, the Zoological Society for the Preservation of Species and Populations (ZGAP), Conservation des Espèces et des Populations Animales (CEPA) and Association Beauval Conservation & Recherche.

Due to the success of this project, the overall population may now be slowly increasing. Between 1999 and 2003, the activities of the PCCP focused on the small offshore island of Rasa and the nearby mainland community of Narra in eastern Palawan. A community-based wardening scheme on Rasa Island, which has the densest cockatoo population known to remain, ensures that no nests are poached. The project has initiated a slow withdrawal to transfer responsibility to a local conservation group. The other important locations in Palawan where the PCCP has been working for some years are the island of Dumaran, the Culasian Managed Resource Protected Area in the district of Rizal, and the islands of Pandanan, at the southern tip of Palawan in the district of Balabac.

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