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.
del Hoyo, J.; Collar, N. J.; Christie, D. A.; Elliott, A.; Fishpool, L. D. C. 2014. HBW and BirdLife International Illustrated Checklist of the Birds of the World. Barcelona, Spain and Cambridge UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International.
Distribution and population
31 cm. Small white cockatoo with red and yellow beneath tail. Adults have short erectile crest, pinkish-washed ear-coverts and lores, red undertail-coverts tipped and shafted white and a deep yellow suffusion beneath wings and tail. Male has black-brown iris, female has red-tinted iris. Juvenile initially has greyer iris, later brownish. Similar spp. Australian corellas and Solomons Cockatoo C. ducorpsii (not in range), lack white-tipped red undertail-coverts. Gathers on offshore islands when, at a distance, easily mistaken for Pied Imperial-pigeon Ducula bicolor. Voice Loud, harsh croaking or rasping call with two syllables.
This species is endemic to the Philippines
. In 1950, it was common throughout but a rapid decline has left a population of c. 560-1,150 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. Individuals have reportedly 'self-introduced' from Rasa Island to the mainland indicating that Rasa may be reaching carrying capacity (Widmann and Widmann 2014a). Since the 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.Population justification
The population is estimated to number 370-770 mature individuals, roughly equivalent to 550-1,200 individuals in total (P. Widmann in litt.
This long-lived species has declined extremely rapidly owing to extensive deforestation within its range, but also as a result of the high prices the birds fetch in trade (c. US$300 in Manila). This also resulted in near-total harvest of nestlings and consequently recruitment was extremely low. It is expected that the rate of decline will slow down in the future since many populations in the oceanic Philippines are extinct and some protected populations are increasing (P. Widmann in litt.
2012). In five PCCP (Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Program) project sites, it has recovered considerably, but declines elsewhere continue, notably in Polillo, and it is feared nearing extinction in Rizal. Interviews with trappers and farmers indicate that Philippine Cockatoos were considerably more common at least until the early 1980s in Palawan, Mindoro, Polillo, Mabate, Samar, Bohol, and Siargao, indicating that the dramatic decline occurred later in this decade (P. Widmann in litt.
2013), therefore although they have now slowed, declines are suspected to have been >80% in the past three generations (39 years). 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.
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, Anon. 2013). 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 the species
. By 2009, a number of the buildings and facilities at the institute had been completed (Schoppe et al.
. 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.
. 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.
. 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). Siargao Island, south-eastern Philippines is being made suitable for a reintroduction attempt (Anon. 2014). A former poacher has been employed to patrol the potential release site and the local village cooperative have been employed to plant seedlings of cockatoo food plants. A subpopulation of the species is found in the Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm, Central Palawan and is carefully monitored (Widmann and Widmann 2014b).
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.
Related state of the world's birds case studies
Anon. 2005. Philippine Cockatoo conservation programme. Cyanopsitta 79: 17.
Anon. 2010. An encouraging expansion of the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Programme. Cyanopsitta: 24-25.
Anon. 2013. The Philippine Cockatoo is saved from damaging development. Cyanopsitta 103: 26.
Anon. 2014a. Philippine Cockatoo re-introduction planning is re-kindled. Cyanopsitta 104: 38.
BirdLife International. 2001. Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.
Collar, N. J.; Butchart, S. H. M. 2013. Conservation breeding and avian diversity: chances and challenges. International Zoo Yearbook.
IUCN. 2015. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015-4. Available at: www.iucnredlist.org. (Accessed: 19 November 2015).
Widmann, P. and Widmann, I. 2014b. Kakaduschutz im Strafvollzug. ZGAP Mitteilungen 30(2): 28-30.
Widmann, P. and Widmann, I.D.L. 2014. Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Program (PCCP): Fortschrittsreport September-Dezember 2012. ZGAP Mitteilungen 30(1): 22-24.
Widmann, P.; Lacerna, I. D.; & S.H. Diaz, S. H. 2001. Ecology and conservation of the Philippine cockatoo Cacatua haematuropygia on Rasa Island, Palawan Philippines.
Widmann, P.; Widmann, I. 2005. Translocation assessment for the Philippine Cockatoo Cacatua haematuropygia in Northern Palawan, Philippines.
Widmann, P.; Widmann, I. D. L.; Diaz, S. H.; van den Beukel, D. D.; Cruz, R. 2006. Potentials and limitations of community-based parrot conservation projects - the example of the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Programme.
Widmann, P.; Widmann, I. L. 2008. The cockatoo and the community: ten years of Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Programme. BirdingASIA: 23-29.
Further web sources of information
Detailed species accounts from the Threatened birds of Asia: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 2001).
Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species
Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection
Text account compilers
Benstead, P., Bird, J., Butchart, S., Derhé, M., Lowen, J., Stattersfield, A., Symes, A., Taylor, J., Khwaja, N. & Ashpole, J
IUCN Red List evaluators
BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Cacatua haematuropygia. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 29/11/2015.
Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2015) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from
http://www.birdlife.org on 29/11/2015.
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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Additional resources for this species