Indonesia: Yellow-crested cockatoo population shrinks

Markus Makur, The Jakarta Post 11 Mar 16;

Damage to habitats and rampant illegal hunting of the yellow-crested cockatoo in East Nusa Tenggara have been blamed for the decreasing population of the protected birds in the province over past decades.

Bird-watching guide Samuel Rabenak, who is also on the staff of the local branch of non-governmental organization Burung Indonesia, said research conducted in the Mbeliling forest, Komodo National Park, showed that the yellow-crested cockatoo population had continued to decrease.

He said the birds could now only be found in Golo Mori village, Komodo district, West Manggarai regency, Flores. “And there are not many,” Samuel told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

He blamed the condition on damage to their natural habitat, insufficient supply of food in the woods in Flores and uncontrolled illegal hunting of the birds.

He said two days earlier he had guided seven birdwatchers from New Zealand from Labuan Bajo to Kelimutu National Park and they were shocked at locals carrying air guns to shoot the birds around Gorontalo Labuan Bajo.

“The bird has been declared to be on the brink of extinction or critically endangered,” Samuel said.

He suggested that to preserve the protected birds in their natural habitat, the government should promote the replanting of trees that produce food for the birds and ban hunting the birds.

The province was once renowned for its yellow-crested cockatoos, or Keka as the bird is locally known. Before 1985, the birds could be easily found in the region.

Rampant hunting, however, has drastically decreased its population. Local farmers consider the birds enemies because they eat their corn and buckwheat.

Meanwhile, the head of the technical division of the province’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), Maman Surahman, said the population of yellow-crested cockatoos in Manipo Recreational Park in Kupang regency was between 25 and 30 while in Harlu Wildlife Reserve in Rote regency there were 30 to 45
of them.

Efforts to protect the birds from illegal hunting, he said, included conducting a periodical inventory and studies on the components of their habitats, such as their hiding, nesting and foraging places.

Rampant hunting, however, has drastically decreased its population. Local farmers consider the birds enemies because they eat their corn and buckwheat.

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