| Jun 25, 2023
Salmon-crested Cockatoo in Seram | 2023 July
Salmon-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis)
The Salmon-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis) is a large (46–52 cm), white cockatoo with a pink crest. It is one of the endemic cockatoos in Maluku and it is also called as the Moluccan Cockatoo. Before the 1980s, the Moluccan Cockatoo was a common species found on Seram Island and its satellite islands (Ambon, Haruku, Saparua, and Nusa Laut). Today, it was reported that they could no longer be found on Haruku, Saparua, Nusa Laut and other satellite islands of Seram, including Buano Island, making Seram and Ambon islands the last habitats of this cockatoo.
In the past, this species was common in coastal areas and in the middle part of the mountains below 1000 m, but only found in small numbers. It was once considered a pest species in coconut plantations until its population sharply declined due to hunting for trade, land conversion at a large scale on small islands, and the impact of constructions and developments of urban areas. During our censuses, in lowland rainforest we recorded a low abundance of only 1.6 individuals/km2, but in some disturbed lower montane forests and forest areas bordering plantations had a higher abundance up to 15 individuals/km2. This abundance is closely related to the presence of strangler banyan trees and large trees suitable for nesting. In the non-breeding period, they can be observed as feeding flocks. They are active at sunrise and around roosting sites before dark. During the day, cockatoos rest and perch silently, and hide among the leaves or make short jumps under the canopy.
The Moluccan Cockatoo is currently considered Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List. Their population size has been decreasing at least since 1994, based on previous IUCN evaluations, due to hunting for the pet trade and habitat degradation, making the already small population increasingly fragmented. In Ambon, it is very difficult to find these cockatoos and they may only remain in the western part of the island. Based on abundance data in the past (7.9 individuals/km2), their population size decreased by over 50% in some parts of the Manusela National Park (currently 1.6 individuals/km2), probably due to exploitation. Our selectivity analysis showed that poaching levels are consistent with their abundance in the wild. Local authorities reported 47 confiscated individuals in the past five years in Maluku alone. Data from our direct field survey showed that the frequency of encounters was relatively low in Masihulan NP and its buffer zone (15.3% and 9.7% of all parrot individuals respectively) and that it was very difficult to find them. Sadly, our analysis supports their uplisting to Endangered (EN).
Salmon-crested or Moluccan Cockatoo