Archived 2010-2011 topics: Madeira Laurel Pigeon (Columba trocaz): downlist to Least Concern?

Link to current BirdLife species factsheet for Madeira Laurel Pigeon

Madeira Laurel Pigeon Columba trocaz is endemic to the island of Madeira (Portugal). It is currently classified as Near Threatened under criteria B and C on the IUCN Red List, because when last assessed it was considered to have a small declining population in a very small range (<500 km2), albeit not severely fragmented or restricted to very few locations.

Following earlier declines and a range contraction, the species’ population recovered rapidly following a ban on hunting in 1986, increasing from an estimated low of 2,700 individuals to between 8,500 and 10,000 individuals today, although there is some fluctuation (Oliveira et al. 1999, 2007). The species is now widespread throughout all laurel forest areas, and has reoccupied many areas of its former range that had been deserted (Madeira Natural Park Service in litt. 2010).

A recent review of the implementation of the EU Species Action Plan (BirdLife International 2010) found that significant efforts have been made to conserve the species and its habitat. All key sites are now protected, and habitat restoration has expanded the area of laurel forest. Farmers suffering from crop damage are provided with free bird-scaring devices, and several government control programmes have also been implemented, reducing conflicts and levels of illegal hunting and poisoning.

Although these measures must be sustained, their implementation to date has led to a significant recovery of the species’s population and range, such that it no longer approaches the Red List thresholds to be considered as threatened. It is therefore proposed to revise its status to Least Concern. Comments are welcome.

BirdLife International (2010) EU Species Action Plan implementation review: Madeira Laurel Pigeon Columba trocaz.

Oliveira, P., Jones, M., Caires, D. and Menezes, D. (1999) Population trends and status of the Madeira Laurel Pigeon Columba trocaz. Bird Conserv. Int. 9: 387-395.

Oliveira, P., Menezes, D. and Sepulveda, P. (2007) Population trends of the Madeira laurel pigeon between 1986 and 2006. Interim report for the Parque Natural da Madeira.

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2 Responses to Archived 2010-2011 topics: Madeira Laurel Pigeon (Columba trocaz): downlist to Least Concern?

  1. In the last assessment of this species, it was classified as Near Threatened because it had a very small range, and a declining population as a result of habitat degradation, hunting and poisoning.

    If taken account that:

    – the population censuses carried out in 2006 and 2009 (part of the on-going monitoring scheme initiated in 1986) concluded that the population trend is no longer declining, but fluctuating, most likely due to stochastic factors, and that it is now estimated to be between 8500 to 10000 individuals;

    – its habitat is fully protected and that significant efforts have been made to conserve and restore it, and that Laurel Forest has inclusively expanded its area;

    – an on-going government program is established to minimize the conflicts between this specie and the farmers, due to the crop damage, providing free bird-scaring devices, also reducing the levels of illegal hunting and poisoning;

    it is clear that the species no longer approaches the Red List thresholds to be considered as threatened, and that all efforts are being made to fully protect this species and its habitat, and to continuously monitor its status.

    As so, given the objective criteria analyzed above, the Madeira Natural Park Service agrees with the proposal to revise the status of Madeira Laurel Pigeon to Least Concern.

  2. Andy Symes says:

    Ana Fagundes (SPEA-Madeira) has made the following comment:

    I’ve been looking to all the information you’ve sent and I have to agree with this reclassification of the Madeira Pigeon.

    The population is increasing (according to the last census) and Madeira government already had to develop twice direct hunting to the species.

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