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The Action Plan to Combat Parrot’s Poaching in North Maluku

Burung Indonesia recently held a meeting with stakeholders to develop an action plan to combat parrots poaching and trading in the North Maluku region. The meeting took place in the city of Ternate on 19-20 April 2018 and was attended by a number of government and non-government agencies which committed to end bird poaching and trading. The three most influential government agencies on this issue, namely the Aketajawe Lolobata National Park, the Maluku Natural Resources Conservation Agency, and the Agency of Protection and Law Enforcement for Environmental and Forestry for the Maluku and Papua regions, attended and took part in the action plan*.

North Maluku, including the islands of Halmahera, Morotai, Bacan, Obi, and several smaller islands, is home to nine species of parrots present in the region, three of which are endemic. The parrots on the islands are targets for poaching and illegal trading, both domestic and international. The White Cockatoo (Cacatua alba), the Eclectus Parrot (Eclectus roratus), and the Chattering Lory (Lorius garralus) are the three most traded bird species from the region. The White Cockatoo (IUCN status: Endangered) and Chattering Lory (IUCN status: Vulnerable) are endemic species and their population significantly declines due to overexploitation.

A discussion on strengthening collaboration and law enforcement. (Photo: Burung Indonesia)

The meeting to draft an action plan marked the start of a new project initiated by Burung Indonesia and BirdLife International to develop a holistic conservation plan for the endemic parrot in North Maluku. In 2008–2009, Burung Indonesia conducted a socioeconomic assessment of large villages in North Maluku and mapped out the main threats to the endemic parrot species in the area. The results of the investigation showed that the white cockatoo population declined sharply in the range 1992–2009.

Habitat loss is a significant threat to these birds. However, poaching for the illegal trade remains a major cause of population decline. Since then, no study of the white cockatoo population has been conducted in the area. The project will update the parrot population database and provide an important baseline on the poaching and trade of parrots in North Maluku. The project closely involves the government and other stakeholders including local communities to jointly develop an action plan for the conservation of the North Maluku parrots.

Community education and outreach activities with local communities in Halmahera, North Maluku (Photo: Burung Indonesia)

Burung Indonesia has established an ongoing technical collaboration with two government agencies, namely the Aketajawe Lolobata National Park and the Maluku Nature Conservation Agency to preserve areas of high biodiversity value which are managed by both institutions. The collaboration engages communities and raises environmental awareness using proven behaviour change techniques, developing alternative sustainable livelihoods and research and monitoring key species populations.

The meeting participants were separated into three small groups and develop a priority list of actions to combat parrots trading (Photo: Burung Indonesia)

To end poaching and illegal trading from the area, several new actions have been approved in the meeting. These actions can be grouped into three general themes and each has a series of actions that are described in detail:

  1. Data, information and habitat management: participants agree to develop a common database regarding records of crimes against wildlife and to conduct detailed studies of parrot populations throughout the area. An agreement was also approved to carry out integrated efforts related to the management of parrot habitat in North Maluku, both inside and outside the conservation area.
  2. Community empowerment and education: localized efforts to improve community knowledge and bring behaviour change towards the importance of biodiversity, in particular the conservation of parrots and their habitats as well as to improve community welfare through the development of sustainable livelihood sources.
  3. Advocacy and collaboration for effective law enforcement: identify the need to establish a joint stakeholder working unit to combat wildlife trafficking. Support efforts to promote legal protection of all parrot species in North Maluku. The work unit will ensure synergies between data and information, good habitat management, community empowerment and targeted awareness and coordination to achieve effective protection and law enforcement.

Written by Adi Widyanto (Burung Indonesia) and Anuj Jain (BirdLife International) oleh Adi Widyanto (Burung Indonesia) dan Anuj Jain (BirdLife International)

* *Other government and non-government agencies attending included the West Halmahera Environment Department, Production Forest Management Unit of Tidore, North Maluku the Criminal Investigation Directorate, North Maluku Navy Base, Khairun University, Halmahera University, North Maluku AMAN, Wildlife Conservation Society, and North Maluku PROFAUNA. These organizations have come together in response to the increasing trade in parrots in North Maluku, particularly on the black market where traffickers use an increasingly complex modus operandi, including the widespread use of social media to market animals.