The red-and-blue lory is primarily threatened by the trapping of wild birds for the pet trade, and the loss of its forest habitat. The attractive plumage of the red-and-blue lory has made it a popular cage bird for over a century and, consequently, wild birds have been intensively trapped to fulfil the demand for international trade. Trapping began as early as the 19thcentury, with most birds being traded within Indonesia and the Philippines. Trapping intensified in the 1990s with an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 birds leaving Karakelang each year (6). Around 3,500 birds were traded between 1992 and 1993, which attracted more trappers, and resulted in the development of modern, more efficient, trapping methods. In 1995, the red-and-blue lory was at last listed under Appendix I of CITES, which prohibited international trade, excluding exceptional circumstances, such as scientific research (3). However, trapping continued in the latter 1990s, with an estimated 80 percent of the illegal trade going to the Philippines (7).
The loss of natural forest from commercial logging, and land conversion for agriculture, throughout the species historical range has also contributed to a decline in the red-and-blue lory population, and may be attributed as the main factor underlying the species disappearance from some islands (5). The only extensive remaining forest is on Karakelang, but the selective removal of the largest, mature trees limits nesting sites (7) (9).
The species’ restricted range of around 1,000 square kilometres, and the small number of locations it is found in, estimated at two to five, means the red-and-blue lory is vulnerable to the effects of disease (5). Indeed, disease transmission from non-native, introduced species has been identified as a further threat to the population. A large decline in 1965 on Karakelang has been attributed to an outbreak of Newcastle disease, which probably spread from domestic poultry to captive lories, which escaped and transmitted the disease to wild birds. The impacts of the disease were compounded by the effects of anti-locust biocides that were sprayed in coconut plantations, which killed birds a few days after application, and consequently, the population has never recovered (7).