MSc. Avin Deen

Dr Jessica Lee

Past co-ordinator: Avin Deen

Aims for 2014-2018: to 1) increase membership from this region; 2) get more literature on Indo-Malayan parrots into the PRG_virtual_library; 3) look out for funding opportunities to fund research work on parrots, particularly lesser known and declining species like the Nicobar parakeet (Psittacula caniceps), Lord Derby’s parakeet (P. derbiana) or Blue-rumped Parrot (Psittinus cyanurus) and also more widespread species like the Alexandrine parakeet (P. eupatria); 4) to complete a regional update of current threats faced by Indo-Malayan parrots.

Our key goals for period 2018-2022 are summarized below:

1. Population assessments of threatened psittacine species.

2. Raise awareness of threats faced by psittacine species in this region, thereby promoting greater national and international protection.

3. Carrying out research to better understand the threats (wildlife trade and loss of habitat) and motivations behind them. Create change at the local level by providing means of sustainable income, empower communities to become stewards of these species and promote habitat restoration.

4. Clarification of the taxonomic status of potentially cryptic species complexes.

5. Capacity-building and establishing guidelines in the rehabilitation and release (and post-release) of rescued psittacines.

6. Enhance understanding of the status and risks of psittacine diseases/pathogens in the context of the parrot trade, and its implications for commercial bird markets as well as for rescued/released and native parrot populations.

7. Complete a regional update of current threats faced by Indo-Malayan/Southeast Asian psittacines.

8. Conduct population surveys.

9. Assess the feasibility of more intense in-situ parrot conservation projects.

10. Assessing the status and risks of psittacine diseases/pathogens in the context of the parrot trade.

Existing projects: The last two years saw progress in the region:

1. Comprehensive in-situ conservation program for the Philippine Cockatoo Cacatua haematuropygia, including research on distribution, threats, habitat use, reintroduction, conservation education, diseases and parasites, breeding and feeding biology: all these are ongoing, we are currently looking a bit deeper in our dataset on breeding success on Rasa Island to explore how this can be published. A short communication on cockatoo genetics is in prep. More samples (esp. from museum specimens) should be included to better cover the historical range of the species. Samples from KFI project sites show very little genetic variability (Peter Widmann)

2. Development of a field laboratory to monitor prevalence of PBVD in wild and domestic parrots in the Philippines = potential joint project with the Wild Parrot Veterinary Section: The attempts to establish a PBFD field lab so far was unsuccessful due to technical difficulties (it works in the UK, but not in the Philippines for yet unknown reasons). Colleagues from Chester Zoo work on it. (Peter Widmann)

3. Reintroduction of the Philippine Cockatoo to Siargao Island, Philippines: Actual reintroduction is put a bit in the backburner, due to lack of suitable birds from the EAZA studbook at the moment. Enrichment planting with food-providing plants was initiated earlier. (Peter Widmann)

4. Mitigation of (future) human-cockatoo conflicts on Palawan, Philippines: We will start a pilot in Iwahig Prison and Penal Farm. A company who is willing to market the product for a higher price was identified and KFI is in talks with them. (Peter Widmann)

5. Conservation of Tanygnathus (sumatranus) everetti. The species was split recently, and is known from few recent records in very few sites. Probably it will qualify as “EN” or “CR”. We try to track down birds in captivity to establish a conservation-breeding population. Surveys in the remaining known sites are planned. (Peter Widmann)

6. Understanding the breeding ecology and behaviour, as well as diet composition of yellow-crested cockatoos in Indonesia – thesis completed for Masalembu islands (Bonnie Zimmermann)

7. Seram cockatoo (Cacatua moluccensis) population surveys in Seram, Indonesia (Bonnie Zimmermann)

8. A review of the domestic and international parrot trade in Singapore, and other parts of Southeast Asia: paper published. Pending second paper around human perceptions on parrot keeping in Singapore (Jessica Lee)

9. Develop and launch a behavior change media campaign targeting parrot hobbyists in Singapore (drawing from the key results of #8 above) – Nat Geo grant did not go through. Currently rewriting the grant to apply to a local conservation fund (Jessica Lee)

10. Population assessment, and assessment of ecological niche of the critically endangered yellow-crested cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea (as well as other cockatoo species) in Singapore = potential joint project with the Urban Parrot Section: fieldwork completed. Pending report/thesis (Jessica Lee)

11. Assessing threats to yellow-crested cockatoos (Cacatua sulphurea) in native habitats in Indonesia, and conservation opportunities in introduced populations in Hong Kong and Singapore. This is coupled with market surveys for psittacine species = potential joint project with the Urban Parrot Section: fieldwork completed. Cage traps were set up in the last quarter of 2019. I flew over, and together with the team, carried out site assessments of the cages (to determine any use by birds) in Nov 2019. Birds were only observed using the traps in March 2020. Trapping to commence in Apr 2020. Pending report/thesis (Jessica Lee)

12. Using next-generation sequencing (NGS) to determine the phylogenetic relationships between subspecies of yellow-crested cockatoos (museum specimens), and to identify markers for identifying subspecies in Hong Kong and Singapore. The study will help quantify the genetic viability of introduced populations, and to assess the potential for use in reintroduction efforts back into the native range: samples from HK collected (more than 10 birds). To be sent to Singapore for genome-sequencing. On hold now because of the COVID19 situation. (Jessica Lee)

13. Assessing the status and risks of psittacine diseases/pathogens in the context of the parrot trade in Singapore = potential joint project with the Wild Parrot Veterinary Section – we are looking at starting a program on Chlamydia psittaci: we started a pilot study on the parrots currently under our care, as well as donated/rescued birds. Looking at the active trapping of wild birds for screening (Jessica Lee)

14. Population and ecological assessment of the Blue-rumped parrot (Psittinus cyanurus) in Singapore. This may be coupled with trial studies on the use of tracking devices as means of monitoring the species = potential joint project with the Urban Parrot Section: first trial was not a success. The birds pulled the trackers out within 30mins to 2h. To re-assess and start second trial, repositioning the trackers (Jessica Lee)

15. White cockatoo (Cacatua alba) population surveys in North Maluku, Indonesia: surveys currently being completed, but local community surveys are finished (Jessica Lee)

16. Reintroduction programs of Indonesian psittacines confiscated by the illegal trade: currently working with the Philippines and Indonesia on repatriating ~130 animals (mostly parrots) back to Indonesia via Sulawesi. It has been postponed because of the COVID19 situation. (Jessica Lee)

From Avin - the perspective of India as a country and Psittacula as a genera, what should be our focus are

1) A detailed study of the Nicobar parakeet (Psittacula caniceps) . Identifying researchers who are willing to brave the hostile conditions of Nicobar island and do a long term field study and also the necessary funding and moral support that such an arduous project requires.

2) A subcontinent wide ecological study of the three most widely distributed sympatric Psittaculas (eupatria, cyanocephala and krameri) through coordination with multiple field researchers from across their distribution. They are the ecological equivalent of Tiger, Leopard and Jungle cat or the Wolf, Dhole and Jackal. This is how I put it to many Indian ecologists who are very mammal- centric.

3) A detailed study of the various subspecies of the Red breasted Parakeet (Psittacula alexandri) which has the most unique biogeographic distribution among all Psittaculas and perhaps all parrots. It occurs or off shore islands of Sumatra but not in mainland Sumatra itself. It is sympatric to the Long tailed parakeet (Psittacula longicauda) in Andamans but is absent in Nicobars.

4) Field ecology of the Lord Derby's parakeet (Psittacula derbiana) in Tibet and Arunachal Pradesh.

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