This species has undergone a rapid population decline, principally owing to unsustainable levels of exploitation. This is likely to continue in the near future, unless recently revised trapping quotas are effectively enforced. It therefore qualifies as Vulnerable.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Distribution and populationCacatua alba
46 cm. Medium-sized, white cockatoo. All white with underside of wings and tail washed yellow. Long, backward-curving white crest. Grey-black bill, white bare eye-ring, yellowish-white or slightly bluish, grey legs. Similar spp. Yellow-crested Cockatoo C. sulphurea, Sulphur-crested Cockatoo C. galerita and Salmon-crested Cockatoo C. moluccensis all have yellow, orange or pink crest feathers. Voice Short, loud, nasal high-pitched screech. Sometimes a rapid series of lower-pitched notes in flight.
is endemic to the islands of Halmahera, Bacan, Ternate, Tidore, Kasiruta and Mandiole in North Maluku, Indonesia
. Records from Obi and Bisa are thought to reflect introductions. It remains locally common: in 1991-1992, the population was estimated at 42,545-183,129 birds (Lambert 1993)
, although this may be an underestimate as it was largely based on surveys from Bacan and not Halmahera where the species may have been commoner. Recent observations indicate that rapid declines are on-going. CITES data show significant harvest rates for the cage bird trade during the early 1990s. Annual harvests have declined in actual terms and as a proportion of the remaining population in recent years. Population justification
The global population has been estimated to number c.43,000-183,000 individuals (Lambert 1993), while the population in Taiwan has been been estimated atTrend justification
CITES data indicate that at its peak in 1991, the legal international cage-bird trade was taking c.17% of the global population annually. It is likely there is additional unrecorded and unregulated illegal and national trade in this species, so the population is inferred to be declining at a rapid rate.Ecology
It is resident (perhaps making minor nomadic movements) in primary, logged and secondary forest up to 900 m. It also occurs in mangroves, plantations (including coconut) and agricultural land, suggesting that it tolerates some habitat modification. The highest densities occur in primary forest, and it requires large trees for nesting and communal roosting. Threats
Unsustainable levels of trapping for the cage-bird trade pose the greatest threat. In 1991, an estimated minimum of 6,600 birds (possibly representing a mere quarter of the actual figure) were taken from the wild. Catch quotas for the species were exceeded by up to 18 times in some localities, indicating that trappers were removing in the order of 17% of the population annually. In 2007, the catch quota was 10 pairs, and only for breeding purposes. However, an investigation by ProFauna revealed that at least 200 White Cockatoo were caught from the wild in North Halmahera in 2007, far exceeding the quota (ProFauna in litt.
2008). Although forest within parts of its range remains relatively intact, exploitation by logging companies has become intensive, and some areas are have been cleared for agriculture and mining. Significant changes in forest cover on Halmahera appear to have driven a concomitant decline in the cockatoo population (F. Lambert in litt.
2012). Habitat and nest-site availability is therefore decreasing, particularly the latter. Furthermore, new logging roads greatly facilitate access for trappers.Conservation actions underway
CITES Appendix II. The North Maluku government has proposed to the Forestry Ministry that the species be classified as a protected species (C. Trainor in litt.
2005). The Indonesian government issues catch quotas and all capture was illegal in 1999. It occurs in two protected areas: Gunung Sibela Strict Nature Reserve on Bacan (although this site is threatened by agricultural encroachment and gold prospecting) and the 167,300 ha Aketajawe-Lolobata National Park on Halmahera, which was declared protected in 2004. A project was set up by Burung (BirdLife) Indonesia in 2007 to set up effective protected area management in the Aketajawe-Lolobata National Park, including monitoring wildlife trade, raising public awareness and support, and providing training for Aketajawe-Lolobata National Park staff and related partners (Waugh 2009).Conservation actions proposed
Monitor national and international trade. Conduct research into population dynamics, ranging behaviour and threats, so that appropriate trapping quotas may be devised. Promote more effective enforcement of trapping quotas. Improve patrolling of the routes used for wildlife smuggling from Indonesia. Introduce trapping concessions to increase self-regulation of trade. Initiate a conservation awareness campaign promoting local support for the species and the regulated collection of eggs and young, rather than adults.
Lambert, F. R. 1993. Trade, status and management of three parrots in the North Moluccas, Indonesia: White Cockatoo Cacatua alba, Chattering Lory Lorius garrulus and Violet-eared Lory Eos squamata. Bird Conservation International 3: 145-168.
BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.
Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).
Hear sounds for this species from xeno-canto, the community database of shared bird sounds from around the world.
View photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Davidson, P., Derhé, M., Khwaja, N., Tobias, J.
Lambert, F., Poulsen, M., Trainor, C.
IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.
BirdLife International (2013) Species factsheet: Cacatua alba. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 26/05/2013.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2013) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 26/05/2013.
This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000)
Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004)
Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.
To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife
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