Madeira Laurel Pigeon Columba trocaz is endemic to the island of Madeira (Portugal). It is currently classified as Near Threatened under criteria B and C on the IUCN Red List, because when last assessed it was considered to have a small declining population in a very small range (<500 km2), albeit not severely fragmented or restricted to very few locations.
Following earlier declines and a range contraction, the species’ population recovered rapidly following a ban on hunting in 1986, increasing from an estimated low of 2,700 individuals to between 8,500 and 10,000 individuals today, although there is some fluctuation (Oliveira et al. 1999, 2007). The species is now widespread throughout all laurel forest areas, and has reoccupied many areas of its former range that had been deserted (Madeira Natural Park Service in litt. 2010).
A recent review of the implementation of the EU Species Action Plan (BirdLife International 2010) found that significant efforts have been made to conserve the species and its habitat. All key sites are now protected, and habitat restoration has expanded the area of laurel forest. Farmers suffering from crop damage are provided with free bird-scaring devices, and several government control programmes have also been implemented, reducing conflicts and levels of illegal hunting and poisoning.
Although these measures must be sustained, their implementation to date has led to a significant recovery of the species’s population and range, such that it no longer approaches the Red List thresholds to be considered as threatened. It is therefore proposed to revise its status to Least Concern. Comments are welcome.
BirdLife International (2010) EU Species Action Plan implementation review: Madeira Laurel Pigeon Columba trocaz. http://www.birdlifeforums.org/WebX/.2cba721b
Oliveira, P., Jones, M., Caires, D. and Menezes, D. (1999) Population trends and status of the Madeira Laurel Pigeon Columba trocaz. Bird Conserv. Int. 9: 387-395.
Oliveira, P., Menezes, D. and Sepulveda, P. (2007) Population trends of the Madeira laurel pigeon between 1986 and 2006. Interim report for the Parque Natural da Madeira.
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