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Kulasisi: A Forbidden Creature You Should Never Keep

The kulasisi is on the brink of extinction.
IMAGE VINZ PASCUA (CC BY-SA 4.0)
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The vibrant plumage of the Philippine hanging parrot (Loriculus philippensis), more commonly known as kulasisi or colasisi, has become a curse for the Philippines’ smallest species of parrot. One of the major threats to the survival of the species is illegal wildlife trade, which is feared to have already driven the extinction of two sub-species of the Philippine hanging parrot: the Cebu hanging parrot and the Siquijor hanging parrot. 

In 2006, Joseph Forshaw described the Philippine hanging parrot or kulasisi as a bird 14 centimeters or 5.5 inches long, weighs 32 to 40 grams, and has a short rounded tail. “They are mainly green with areas of red, orange, yellow, and blue varying between subspecies,” writes Forshaw. The kulasisi has a read forehead

Kulasisi: A Forbidden Pet

Photo by Vinz Pascua (CC BY-SA 4.0).

Although the bird’s conservation status is listed as “Least Concern” in the IUCN Red List, it is feared this is inaccurate. In 2019, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) released a new list of the country’s most critically endangered species. The kulasisi is included in the list. 

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The kulasisi, in fact, is on the brink of extinction. It is a favorite of trappers who easily sell the bird for its convenient size for transporting, and its colorful plumage that is prized among exotic animal collectors around the world. According to the DENR, the kulasisi is “facing extremely high risk of extinction in the wild in the immediate future.” 

Today, it is forbidden to collect or trade Philippine hanging parrots. Mere possession of the creature is punishable by law. 

Among the factors that the DENR considered in classifying the kulasisi as “Critically Endangered” are the destruction or modification of its habitat, the reduction of its population and its area of occupancy, and its over-utilization for commercial purposes, among other things. 

According to Tony Juniper and Mike Parr in “Parrots: A Guide to Parrots of the World,” the kulasisi has different subspecies native to different islands in the Philippines. Some subspecies are rare or almost extinct. “Trading of birds between the islands for pets has resulted in escaped pets living on different islands to where they originated,” they write. 

Camiguin Hanging Parrot: A Kulasisi Subspecies

Photo by Thomas Arndt.
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In 2006, a new species of kulasisi was discovered by a German zoologist Thomas Arndt. It was discovered on the volcanic island of Camiguin in Mindanao. Sadly, he deduced that even then, the bird subspecies population has already reached a critical limit. 

“One indication that the population has possibly already reached a critical limit is the appearance of a wild blue mutation. This was shown me by a dealer who gets his birds mainly from one of the trappers I met. The bird could possibly be a product of inbreeding depression to which the population is exposed,” writes Arndt. 

Philippine hanging parrots are typically encountered alone or in pairs but rarely in groups. They live in forests where they forage for small, soft fruits in trees, or drink nectar from their favorite flowers. 

Kulasisi birds are found in several islands in Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao. 


Sources:

Arndt, Thomas. (2006). "A new hanging parrot from Camiguin Island, Philippines" (PDF). BirdingASIA. 5: 55–58. 

Forshaw, Joseph M. (2006). Parrots of the World; an Identification Guide. Illustrated by Frank Knight. Princeton University Press.

Juniper, Tony; Parr, Mike. (1998). "182 Colasisi". Parrots: A Guide to Parrots of the World. Yale University Press.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources. (2019). DENR Administrative Order No. 2019-09



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Mario Alvaro Limos
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