Over One-Hundred Indonesian Parrots Released Back Into the Wild

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On December 15, one hundred-seventeen parrots and cockatoos were released back into their forest homes in South Halmahera, North Maluku by Forestry Unit 1 BKSDA Ternate and the Wildlife Conservation Society. The majority of these smuggled birds were found in Ahmad Yani Harbour, and confiscated by the local forestry department and police.

Umbrella cockatoos getting a second chance on life.

Umbrella cockatoos getting a second chance on life.

Stewart Metz, Associate Director of IPP stated, “Indonesia is home to some of the most spectacular birds in the world and therefore some of the most desired. Often parrots are brutally trapped in the wild and smuggled under conditions approaching torture

The birds had been hidden on the Doloronada Ferry and slated to be shipped to the Phillipines and included forty-five Umbrella cockatoos, fifty-seven Eclectus parrots, and four Chattering lories.

The Umbrella cockatoo, Eclectus parrot and Chattering lory are endemic to Indonesia and are found on Morotai, Halmahera, Bacan, Obi, Ternate and Tidore. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) tracks the worlds species that are critically endangered. The Umbrella cockatoo is on the red list and considered "endangered", the Chattering Lory "vulnerable" and the Eclectus parrot at "least concern." Trapping, trading and smuggling are dramatically decreasing the population of these birds in the wild.

The successful release was the result of the collaboration between Indonesian agencies, forestry, police and the WCS Crime Unit, KKI (Konservasi Kakatua Indonesia and the Indonesian Parrot Project, an American NGO.

Veterinary staff from the Animal Quarantine Class II Ternate inspected the birds to determine their health condition and to avoid transmission of disease. Out of a total of one hundred seventy-three birds, only one hundred-seventeen birds were ready for release. The remainder of the birds will remain in rehabilitation until they are ready to be released back into the wild.

Konservasi Kakatua Indonesia (KKI) and Indonesian Parrot Project (IPP) organizations were chosen because of a track record and expertise in successfully releasing parrots back into the wild in Indonesia. They assisted in preparing the birds in the habituation cage before release by offering enrichment and forest foods. KKI-IPP also oversaw the bird banding.

Stewart Metz, Associate Director of IPP stated, “Indonesia is home to some of the most spectacular birds in the world and therefore some of the most desired. Often parrots are brutally trapped in the wild and smuggled under conditions approaching torture; the overall process may reach 40% loss of life. All of this is illegal. The Indonesian Parrot Project is an American NGO working since 2001 to both prevent the illegal poaching of Indonesian parrots (especially cockatoos) and, conversely, rehabilitate and release back to the wild parrots confiscated from smugglers. To date, over 1200 parrots, lories and cockatoos have been returned to the wild.”

Dudi Nandika, Senior Field Researcher, KKI stated, “The process for releasing birds should be used is called ‘soft release'. Birds are selected to be candidates by criteria that includes wild or pet bird, ability to fly, able to recognize wild food and that the birds can interact socially with their own species. After quarantine the birds receive medical testing, rehabilitation and socialization, and decreased contact with humans. When the birds are released, they need to be capable of finding their own food, nesting sites, and recognizing predators.”

Dwi Adhiasto, Wildlife Trade Program Manager WCS-IP said, “These birds not only taken for domestic trading but also for export. The common water route is going to the Philippines from North Sulawesi and North Maluku. The Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) list these three birds on Appendix II which states there shall be a zero quotient for wild birds, so any trade in these birds is illegal.”

This past May, police in North Maluku confiscated a group of birds from the Ranga-Ranga village in Halmahera which were also destined to go to the Philippines. This group included fifty-six Umbrella cockatoos, one hundred fifty-nine Eclectus parrots, three Chattering lories and one Rainbow lorikeet. These birds are also slated for future release.

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Bonnie Zimmermann

Bonnie Zimmermann
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since: 09/2014
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