Madeira Laurel Pigeon
Columba trocaz


This species has undergone a recent population increase, following a serious decline, as a result of habitat protection and a hunting ban. Its population is largely confined to a single protected area, in which continued species and habitat protection are required to prevent recent increases being reversed. Therefore, this species qualifies as Conservation Dependent.

Range and population

Columba trocaz is endemic to Madeira and formerly the neighbouring island of Porto Santo , Portugal . It is predominantly found on the island's mountainous northern slopes, but there are a few isolated populations in the south. It was very abundant in the early years of human colonisation, but subsequently declined dramatically. However, the population has recovered in recent years to an estimated 10,400 birds in approximately 12 km2 of suitable habitat1.


Nest predation by black rat Rattus rattus is likely to be a limiting factor. Although the area of laurel forest is now increasing, regeneration is adversely affected by grazing and fire. Extinction on Porto Santo and historical declines on Madeira were directly related to forest destruction for wood, agriculture, grazing and human settlements. Hunting and poisoning compounded the effects of habitat loss and they continue illegally in a few well-defined areas, especially on agricultural land. This species's unpopularity, as a result of its use of agricultural areas, has a negative influence on conservation and management actions.


It is legally protected with hunting banned since 1986. Almost the entire population is within Madeira Natural Park . Extensive surveys were conducted in 1986 and 1995 and the park has a management plan. Bird scarers have proved fairly effective in keeping it off agricultural crops. An action plan was published in 1996.


*Promote the use of bird-scarers to reduce agricultural damage. *Continue research, especially annual monitoring of the population. *Identify and protect new areas of laurel forest. *Prevent further habitat loss from livestock-grazing. *Prevent illegal hunting and poisoning. *Undertake an education campaign to overcome the species's unpopularity.

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