Philippine authorities have seized a specimen of one of the world's rarest parrots after boarding a boat suspected of being involved in illegal wildlife trading, the coastguard said Wednesday.
The critically-endangered red-vented cockatoo, a foot-long (31-centimetre) white parrot found only in the Philippines, was seized along with 71 hill mynahs and 42 blue-naped parrots from a boat at the resort of El Nido.
Coastguard and environmental protection officers boarded the vessel on Saturday before it was set to sail for Manila and found the birds, a coastguard statement said.
The authorities are seeking the owners of the cargo, while the boat captain was fined for carrying prohibited goods, it added.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature classifies the red-vented cockatoo, Cacatua haematuropygia, as critically endangered and estimates there are only 1,000 left in the wild.
It also classifies the blue-naped parrot, Tanygnathus lucionensis, another bird found only in the Philippines, as near-threatened due to trapping and loss of forest habitat.
Indira Dayang Widmann, programme officer for the Katala Foundation, which is dedicated to protecting the red-vented cockatoo, said at least 75 percent of the surviving members of the species were concentrated in the western province of Palawan, which includes El Nido.
"The bird is still being trafficked for the domestic pet trade," Widmann told AFP.
Tribesmen in Palawan trap cockatoos and sell them cheaply to middlemen who pass them on for as little as 2,000 pesos ($47), she said, even though trapping and trafficking in them is punishable by up to a million-peso ($24,000) fine.