It is not a big surprise to see wild Indian Ringneck Parrots or Quaker Parrots in Europe. The same goes for USA with Green-cheeked Amazons or several conures. Almost all invasive species are common in their original habitats. One of the exceptions is Yellow-crested Cockatoo in Hong Kong. Along with the Philippine Cockatoo, this species is the rarest of all Cacatua species. Originally, it is found on Moluccas, Indonesia. Despite rapid decline of its wild population, these parrots are still being exported, for example to Hong Kong where some of them escaped or were released.
In cooperation with a few Australian researchers, the team from Hong Kong University headed by Dr. Luke Gibson started monitoring the impact of poaching on the wild population of Yellow-crested Cockatoos and other animals in the same area. Surprisingly, they have found out that the intensive trade led to establishing of introduced population in Hong Kong which counts more than 200 individuals. This number corresponds to 10% of the total wild population.
Despite of great difference between Indonesian jungle and this Asian metropolis, birds are doing well and they are also breeding. “In some cases, the traded organisms have escaped and are now thriving in their introduced habitats,” said Gibson for the HKU website.
“This is a key example of how Hong Kong – a heavily urbanised city-state – can play a role in the conservation of globally threatened species,” said co-author Ding Li Yong, from the Australian National University which has been also participating on the research. In future, there is a possibility to return birds from Hong Kong back to the wild.
Title photo: (c) Timothy Bonebrake