Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Programme
A global biodiversity hotspot, the Philippines unique archipelago of over 7000 islands has a rich, diverse range of flora and fauna with one of the highest densities of species endemism in the world.
The Philippines also have a rapidly expanding human population and associated high levels of habitat destruction and poaching. Our focus is working alongside the Katala Foundation on Palawan to protect and conserve two Critically Endangered species.
With around 1000 Philippine cockatoos remaining in the wild, this project has been critical to the continued survival of the species and protects the majority of remaining the sub populations of this bird. Its main threats include the caged bird trade and loss of habitat.
Following zoo breeding, translocation, research and advocacy there has been a significant increase over the last decade of the main population on Rasa Island, with numbers growing from around 25 to over 300. The work has expanded to additional sites and two islands between them – Rasa and Pandanan – now hold around 50% of the global population.
Community and education activities have been key to project success; one main achievement has been the successful employment of ex-poachers from the community as wardens to protect the cockatoos. Wardens not only benefit financially from the presence of the cockatoos, but their local knowledge is invaluable to the project.
The Palawan forest turtle is the second key focus species for us in the region. Threatened due to poaching for the illegal wildlife trade, and found only in Palawan, the species is in decline with long term surveys showing that population trends over-collection and limited recruitment and emigration of adults is affecting population numbers.
Ecological research is a key part of this project, and a warden scheme is in place for further protection. Following confiscations of illegally harvested animals of over 4000 individuals in 2015, there is an urgent need for protection for this species.