News from the Indonesian Parrot Project

News from the Indonesian Parrot Project

Sep 6, 2008

Notes from the Field

by Stewart Metz, MD, Director

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

Things continue to be exciting and fluid in Indonesia. Herein we report on the “rediscovery” of the rarest subspecies of Yellow-crested cockatoo (C. sulphurea abbotti) in the remote Masalembu Archipelago, and provide the first photos of it in the wild. In view of its critical status , we have initiated a new program to study and, hopefully, to conserve this beautiful cockatoo. Our Conservation-Awareness-Pride Program continues to excite and teach schoolchildren in Maluku, Jakarta, and now Masalembu. We hope that these and other topics discussed herein will be interesting to you.

Warm regards, Stewart Metz, Director, Indonesian Parrot Project

Cacatua sulphurea abbotti is the rarest cockatoo on earth, and one of a handful of the most endangered parrots-indeed, of all birds. It is one of the four subspecies (races) of Yellow-crested cockatoos [Cacatua sulphurea], the others being sulphurea (the nominate race, found on the island of Sulawesi), citronocrista (the Citron-crested cockatoo, found only on Sumba Island) and parvula (found on Timor, Komodo, and a few other islands in the southern Indonesian archipelago of Nusa Tenggara. It is also the most western of all cockatoos, and actually is found outside of Wallace’s line-in the tiny archipelago of Masalembu isolated in the remote Java Sea. There are three islands in the group: Masalembu, Kamadian, and Masakambing, but the cockatoo is now found in the wild only on tiny [5 kmĀ² ] Masakambing Island , having been extirpated from the others. Therefore, we propose that, henceforth, it be referred to as the Masakambing cockatoo.

Saving the World’s Rarest Cockatoo: the First Photographs

In view of the highly endangered status for this race of cockatoo, we decided to initiate and fund studies of the status, ecology, and possible conservation measures for the Masakambing cockatoo. The field work is being carried out by Dudi Nandika and Dwi Agustina (see link below), who (along with Bonnie Zimmermann and myself) form the Indonesian NGO Konservasi Kakatua Indonesia [Conservation of Indonesian Cockatoos]. Dud and Dwi had previously carried out pivotal studies of the highly endangered C. sulphurea sulphurea on Sulawesi, which were published in PsittaScene in 2006.`

Little is known about this cockatoo, with the majority of findings found in unpublished studies carried out prior to 2000. These studies had suggested that the cockatoo was seriously threatened by deforestation and planting of nearly all forest land ,as well as capture for the pet bird trade. In their last survey, they found that there were only seven cockatoos left in the wild. Dudi and Dwi carried out an initial expedition to Masalembu in June and July of this year. Only 10 cockatoos were found: four (apparently mated) pairs and two juveniles.

Logging of their favored nest hole trees remains a huge problem, as does trapping (ironically, mostly by government officials!). Based on the extreme risk of extinction of the Masakambing cockatoo, IPP is seeking funding now to carry out more studies and initiate direct conservation measures.

If you are interested in joining our efforts to conserve one of the world’s rarest birds, please send contributions to our new CFO, Maggie Sichel-Pinatelli.

Please mail any donations and mark them “Yellow- crested Cockatoo Project” to Indonesian Parrot Project, 1417 Deer Lane, Sebastopol, CA 95472

Within the next two weeks we will be sending out an international press release with more information, and access to additional photographs and video. We want to make a big splash with this news and if you have any suggestions or “connections” please contact us. Of course as our regular supporters of IPP “You heard it first.”

Please email Bonnie Zimmermann if you would like a copy of this release at

Meet Dudi Nandika and Dwi Agustina


Conservation-Awareness-Pride Program

New materials have been prepared for our Conservation-Awareness-Pride Program, and are being distributed to children in Jakarta, Ambon, Seram, and Masalembu. They include a coloring book about cockatoos (“Burung Apakah Itu?” ‘What Bird is That?’) as well as a new t-shirt bearing the slogan “”Bairkan Kakatua Indonesia kita tetap terbang bebas” (Keep the Cockatoos of Indonesia Flying Free!”). Both feature drawings by Joan Tilke.

About 5000 school children have already been reached bythe C-A-P Program.


Seram Cockatoo Added to U.S. Endangered Species Act!

As you know, the Salmon-crested (Seram) cockatoo is protected internationally on Appendix 1 of CITES. However, its listing on the Endangered Species Act here in the U.S. has been delayed for several decades, aided and abetted by the Bush Administration’s stonewalling of new listings, and of the ESA in general. It took a Federal lawsuit to make the EPA catch up on proposed listings. On July 29 of this year, the Seram cockatoo was finally “proposed to be listed” as a protected species on the EPA list ( see link below) ). This is the only psittacine we see receiving such up-listing this year, with 3 others (including the Blue-throated macaw) being deferred. Clarification of the actual effects and enforcement of this listing require clarification. Hopefully, this will provide some increased protection for these beleaguered cockatoos.

EPA List


Kembali Bebas Rehabilitation Center

Our active and direct involvement in the running of Kembali Bebas continues to be in doubt, due to the active move by the local government (and especially the local manager) to take over its management. We have funded it through August .

On my last trip, the birds continue to look in excellent health, and we hope to continue veterinary care. Most importantly, our special friends-the former bird trappers-and the leaders of both nearby villages, have made it clear that they would like us to continue to run the center.

We will keep you posted.


Eco-Tourism Program for 2009

Plans are gearing up for our eco tour program for 2009. Currently we are deciding on locations, number of tours and timing. We estimate the tours will be conducted in the fall of 2009.

Confirming news will be in our next NFTF. Until then, if you have any questions or are interesting in joining us on a tour please contact our Eco-tour Director, Bonnie Zimmermann at or phone (707) 227-5155.

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