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Facing Extinction

Yellow Crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea


This small cockatoo from Indonesia is listed on the IUCN Red List as CR (Critically Endangered) known as

Lesser Sulphur Crested or Yellow Crested Cockatoo


cacatua sulphurea

4 sub species:

c s sulphurea
c s parvula
c s abbotti
c s citrinocristata



This small energetic cockatoo originates from the Indonesian Islands. They have been listed as a CITES Appendix 1 species 'critically endangered' since October 2004.


Currently esitmated to be only around or up to 3,000 individual birds left in its natural habitat, this includes all sub species including Citron Crested.

A CITES Article 10 certificate MUST be obtained to either sell or purchase legally one of these birds.

Breeding these birds in captivity does not in any way help preserve this species in the wild, as any captive bred birds cannot ever be released back into the wild for many reasons but mainly the risk of disease into the wild population. Breeding this species in captivity will not preserve the wild population from extinction.


Breeding in captivity will mean that this bird is preserved in captivity for future generations to see, but sadly living in zoos and rescue situations or as pets. Once the wild population have become extinct they can never be returned. 



























The IUCN Red List Criteria are used to determine extinction risk and set thresholds for qualification for the 3 globally threatened categories (Critically Endangered, Endangered and Vulnerable.


These are based on biological factors related to extinction risk and include rate of decline, population size, area of geographic distribution, and degree of population and distribution fragmentation.

CRITICALLY ENDANGERED (CR) - A species is Critically Endangered when the best available evidence indicates that it meets any of their criteria and it is therefore considered to be facing an extremely high risk of extinction in the wild, the criteria are complicated but to summarise this species has less than 2,500 individuals in the wild all told, including the sub species and this small population could easily decline rapidly due to deforestation making habitat loss, illegal smuggling and trapping for the pet trade and/or disease

This cockatoo at the13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties held in Bangkok on Tuesday 12 October 2004 was uplisted to CITES Appendix 1, 

The proposal to uplist this cockatoo came from Indonesia itself, the home of this cockatoo. A proposal to uplist this cockatoo to Appendix 1 has been put forward by Germany in 1997, but this proposal was withdrawn before being voted on, for various reasons.There was concern that there may be some difficulties in monitoring East Timor (Timor Leste) where significant numbers of parvula sub species had at that time in 2004 recently been discovered, this was because East Timor was the world's newest country and only became independent from Indonesia in 2002 and was not and still is not, a party to CITES.

The main reason for the decline of this cockatoo in the wild is unsustainable trapping of these cockatoos for the pet trade since the 1970's.

Although this cockatoo is fully protected under Indonesian law, illegal trapping and smuggling still takes place.


The uplisting now means that any of the Lesser Sulphur Crested nominate or sub species (including Citron Crested - citrinocristata) will need either:

a) a closed ring or:
b) a microchip

To enable the owner to sell. This will include adult breeding birds as well as youngsters bred. Even original wild caught specimens (of which there are still some) will need a microchip.

The uplisting of this cockatoo to Appendix 1 was fantastic news, it was hoped it would help put an end to illegal trading of wild caught specimens being passed off as captive bred. Thus preserving the remaining ever dwindling wild populations.

If you are considering buying one of these cockatoos (or any parrot) please check your bird is responsibly captive bred in a good spacious environment, not from an egg puller and churned out for profit at any cost to the adult birds.

Please remember Yellow Crested cockatoos are CITES Appendix 1 species - which means you need to obtain an Article 10 certificate to buy (and sell) these birds. Do not buy one of these cockatoos without the correct paperwork as it is illegal and you may face prosecution.

IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature. CITES is the - Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora

Critically Endangered. 2010 IUCN Red List Category (as evaluated by BirdLife International - the official Red List Authority for birds for IUCN). 

cockatoo sanctuary & rescue







Mikey in domed aviary

Mikey in domed aviary







ICaptive bred Yellow Crested cockatoo

Yellow Crested cockatoos in the wild

Yellow crested cockatoos on tree branches at Manipo Nature Recreation Park, East Nusa Tenggara, in 2013. The population of this species on several islands in Indonesia is endangered due to massive exploitation, (Photo courtesy of East Nusa Tenggara’s Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BKSDA))

“This study confirms that, as a whole, parrots face a higher rate of extinction than any other comparable bird group. Indeed, 56% of all parrot species are in decline. They face a wide range of threats, but loss and degradation of forest habitat, agricultural expansion, and hunting and trapping – parrots are the most common bird group reported in the wildlife trade – are all major factors. However, this study identifies conservation priorities for these attractive, intelligent birds – which have beguiled and fascinated humans since we first set eyes upon them – and offers a way to prevent more species following the Carolina Parakeet and Paradise Parrot into extinction” Dr Stuart Butchart, Head of Science at BirdLife International.

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