By Jonathan L. Mayuga
The Philippine cockatoo, scientifically named Cacatua haematuropygia, is Palawan’s most treasured bird. One of the very few parrots that can dance and mimic human voice, the Philippine cockatoo is facing extinction because of massive habitat destruction and illegal wildlife trade.
Called katala in Palawan, it is listed as critically endangered under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (Cites) Appendix I. The Philippines is a signatory to Cites, an international agreement among governments to ensure that trade in wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
Republic Act 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, strictly prohibits the capture, sale and transport of critically endangered or threatened species.
There is only a thousand of this rare bird left in the country, says world-renowned conservationist Peter Widmann—and most of them are found in Palawan. The number represents the global population of the katala, which can be found only in the Philippines.
There are a few katala on Siargao Island, Pulilio Island and Loboc in Bohol. It is deemed already extinct in the Leyte province, Widmann said.
Outside Palawan, around 150 katala can also be found is in Sulu, Widmann said.
Widmann, founder of the Katala Foundation Inc. whose purpose is to save the katala from extinction, is leading the Philippine Cockatoo Conservation Program. More....