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Many internationally traded species are on the verge of extinction in their native countries. In some cases, traded animals have managed to escape -- or have been deliberately introduced -- into new locations, forming feral populations. These secondary, often thriving, populations could hold hope for the survival of endangered species in their native ranges, suggests a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment. For example, the demand for cage birds has caused severe population declines of the Critically Endangered yellow-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea) in its native range in eastern Indonesia and East Timor. But the bird thrives in Hong Kong, thanks to some pet cockatoos that escaped and established a population there. “Personally, the biggest surprise to me was that the raucous, sparkling-white birds I regularly see flying outside my office window in Hong Kong are critically endangered,” lead author Luke Gibson of the University of Hong Kong told Mongabay. “How could such a conspicuous species thriving amidst the skyscrapers in downtown Hong Kong be threatened?” [caption id="attachment_192132" align="alignright" width="370"] The Critically Endangered yellow-crested cockatoo thrives in Hong Kong, thanks to some pet cockatoos that escaped and established a population there. Photo by Timothy Bonebrake.[/caption] Gibson and his colleague Ding Li Yong decided to investigate this further, and discovered that the yellow-crested cockatoo is not an isolated example. They identified 49 globally threatened species that have established wild populations outside their native distributions on all continents except Antarctica. Sometimes, the exotic populations have fared better than their…

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