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Recovery within a population of the Critically Endangered citron-crested cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata in Indonesia after 10 years of international trade control

  • Alexis J. Cahill (a1), Jonathan S. Walker (a1) and Stuart J. Marsden (a2)
Abstract

Moratoria on international trade are frequently used to protect threatened species but few studies have examined their effectiveness in allowing populations to recover. We present population data collected before and after a moratorium on trade in the citron-crested cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata, a distinctive subspecies of the yellow-crested cockatoo endemic to Sumba, Indonesia. Before legal trade ceased in 1993 numbers of cockatoos leaving Sumba averaged c. 1,600 per year, and the 1992 population, estimated at 3,200, surely could not sustain such a level of trade. We surveyed cockatoos in four forest patches on Sumba in 1992, and then surveyed these same forest patches 10 years later, using the same field methods. Forest cover within the four patches was similar between years. We recorded a statistically significant increase in overall cockatoo density, from c. 2 birds per km2 in 1992 to >4 per km2 in 2002. Group sizes were also larger in 2002 than in 1992. Densities at two forest sites had increased considerably, at another the population was stable, but at one small forest patch a small population in 1992 had probably decreased. While the population has made a modest recovery, densities remain low compared to cockatoo populations elsewhere. Illegal trade is known to persist and its volume should be monitored closely.

Moratoria on international trade are frequently used to protect threatened species but few studies have examined their effectiveness in allowing populations to recover. We present population data collected before and after a moratorium on trade in the citron-crested cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata, a distinctive subspecies of the yellow-crested cockatoo endemic to Sumba, Indonesia. Before legal trade ceased in 1993 numbers of cockatoos leaving Sumba averaged c. 1,600 per year, and the 1992 population, estimated at 3,200, surely could not sustain such a level of trade. We surveyed cockatoos in four forest patches on Sumba in 1992, and then surveyed these same forest patches 10 years later, using the same field methods. Forest cover within the four patches was similar between years. We recorded a statistically significant increase in overall cockatoo density, from c. 2 birds per km2 in 1992 to >4 per km2 in 2002. Group sizes were also larger in 2002 than in 1992. Densities at two forest sites had increased considerably, at another the population was stable, but at one small forest patch a small population in 1992 had probably decreased. While the population has made a modest recovery, densities remain low compared to cockatoo populations elsewhere. Illegal trade is known to persist and its volume should be monitored closely.

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Corresponding author
Correspondence: Department of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, M1 5GD, UK. E-mail s.marsden@mmu.ac.uk
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Oryx
  • ISSN: 0030-6053
  • EISSN: 1365-3008
  • URL: /core/journals/oryx
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