Tanimbar Goffin Lab

 

The Tanimbar Goffin Lab is a research field station in Indonesia which was established by Mark O'Hara 1 and Berenika Mioduszewska 2 in 2017, in collaboration with the Research Centre for Biology of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences 3 (RCB-LIPI) and local hosts of the Hurlatu Clan (Wilhelmus and Vera Samanugn, Leo Samangun, Petrus Sainyakit, Aloisius Sakliresi).

The field station is intended as a base for researchers and nature enthusiasts to explore, study and conserve the rich flora and fauna of the Tanimbar Islands.

 
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Our main study focus is the research on the natural behaviour and ecology of the Goffin's cockatoo (or Tanimbar Corella, Cacatua goffinana), a species endemic to the Tanimbar Islands.

Regular scanning of transect routs allows us to collect data on interesting behaviours, the foraging ecology, as well as to monitor nesting sites of wild individuals and estimate the population of Goffin's cockatoos.

From top left to bottom right: Yakobus Sainyakit (guide and construction help), Petrus Sainyakit (guide and quatermaster), Wilhelmus Samangun (owner of the farmland and on site manager of the field station), Aloisius Sakliresi (field guide and construction help), Mark O'Hara, Dewi M. Prawiradilaga (senior scientist and supervising local counterpart at LIPI, specialised in foraging ecology and birds of prey), Berenika Mioduszewska and Tri Haryoko (local counterpart at LIPI focusing on taxonomy and experienced field researcher).
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To compare cognitive abilities of wild-caught individuals in Indonesia with hand-reared birds in Austria, we also conduct capture-release studies in our on-site aviary. Wild birds are being caught, ringed and examined before participating in observational studies.

Once the behavioural tests are concluded, birds undergo a final health check before being released back into the wild.

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The Tanimbar Islands are a small Indonesian island group (65 islands spanning approx. 5430 km2) in the Maluku province of Indonesia (half way between Timor and New Guinea.

The field station is located on Yamdena, the largest of the Tanimbar Islands (2981 km2), which is largely covered with moist and dry deciduous forests. The coastline of the east side of the island consists of patches of agricultural land (fruit trees, beans, scrub and maize) and logged deciduous forests, where larger flocks of cockatoos can regularly be observed foraging and roosting.

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Our location near the agricultural grounds of Lorulun village (S7° 48’59.4”, E131° 22’ 41.2”) has the advantage of being within range of the capital city Saumlaki (~45 min by car) and allows access to the pristine forest and known breeding territories (via logging and hunting routes, approx. 3h by foot).

The facility includes living quarters and an outdoor aviary (ca. 10m x 5m x 3m) with a visually isolated experimental compartment (ca. 5m x 2,5m) for capture-release studies, as well as for soft reintroduction of rescue birds from the Indonesian Forestry Ministry.

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Apart from the core scientific work, our objective is to contribute to the conservation of the cockatoos and the environment by providing outreach activities to the communities and local schools.

We also gladly welcome local and foreign visitors, explain ongoing research and try to raise awareness about Goffin’s cockatoos and other protected species in the area.

 

Goffin Lab