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The Tanimbar Corella: Being Hunted and Considered as Pest

Dawn breaking and sunlight piercing the canopies are the cues for cockatoos to start squawking and circling agricultural areas on the forest edges of the Tanimbar Islands. The locals are familiar with Tanimbar Corella (Cacatua gofniana) for two reasons: very easy to find—whether in the forest or their fields, and the bird’s detrimental actions to the community's agricultural production to the point that it’s considered a pest.

The most considerable population of Tanimbar Corella is on Yamdena, the largest of the islands in the Tanimbar archipelago. They inhabit primary and secondary forests, tall mangrove forests and visit the agricultural areas every so often. The biggest threat for this species--along with the Blue-streaked Lory (Eos reticulata)—in nature are capturing and trading, aside from poaching and land conversion. The trading volume on the international market of Tanimbar Corella has been recorded since 1982.

The knowledge of the people of the Tanimbar Islands about this type of cockatoo is excellent. They even know that the cockatoo in Tanimbar is different from other types in the Maluku Islands. The Tanimbar Corella also has various local names depending on the area of ​​each community: anar, arar, tilngoi, tingloi, kake, and kai. There’s even a legend on the origin of the species.

In 2005, Burung Indonesia carried out intensive monitoring of the practice of catching and trading wild animals, specifically the Tanimbar Corella and Blue-streaked Lory. The main reason for the capturing of these species was collector’s demand. The fact that Tanimbar Corella was considered a pest also contributed in making the community let it happen. In the period of monitoring, it was estimated that around 10,560 individuals of Tanimbar Corella were captured every year throughout the Tanimbar region.

The Tanimbar Corella has been included in the Appendix I of Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Species listed in this category are those with extinction threat if the trading continues. Therefore, the trade in wild-caught Tanimbar Corella is declared an illegal practice. The World Conservation Agency (IUCN) has determined this species to be in Near Threatened status, while the government has included it in the list of protected animals based on Government Regulation of the Republic of Indonesia No. 7 of 1999 concerning Preservation of Plant and Animal Species.

Considered as Agricultural Pest

The conflict between communities and Tanimbar Corella has been long continued. A flock of Tanimbar Corella consists of thousands of birds, which diet on corn, rice grain, banana and papaya. An attack of this flock can deplete communities’ agricultural products rapidly due to the large number of birds.

Farmers of Tanimbar usually open an area of the forest—the natural habitat of Tanimbar Corella—to be converted to agricultural land. They will return to their old land after a dozen to tens of years, when vegetation has grown back on it. In some locations, the practice of clearing is regulated in local customary law. However, in several places in north-western Yamdena, the forest restoration process took much longer than other areas. Due to this reason, the communities cannot return to their original land and have to convert new forest areas.

To repel the Tanimbar Corella flocks, the farmers intensify field monitoring right before the harvest season begins. The most common method is placing scarecrows or tying white cloth or plastic in the fields to scare off birds.


Important fact: Out of 10.000 bird species in the world, Indonesia is a home for 1.769 wild birds. Discovering the various types of birds and their services for the environment is a way of appreciating the biodiversity richness of Indonesia.