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Why the Caged Bird Sings

Conservation Group to Release Bali Starlings on Nusa Lembongan as Part of Successful Program to Protect Endangered Bali Mascot


Bali News: Why the Caged Bird Sings
Click Image to Enlarge

(12/8/2012)

Friends of the National Parks Foundation (FNPF) will release several highly endangered Bali Starlings on December 20, 2012 on Nusa Lembongan island, an island located a short distance from Bali’s southern shore.

The release forms part of a continuing series of coordinated releases of the rare birds on Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan.

In November of 2011 the Governor of Bali released 10 of the birds following a 2006 release officiated over by the President of Indonesia and the First Lady, the Minister of Forestry, and the Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources.

“The released birds will increase the genetic diversity of the wild population of Bali Starlings, and help create a viable population that can then be used to repopulate other locations in Bali,” explained FNPF director, Drh I Gede Nyoman Bayu Wirayudha.

“This is particularly important on Nusa Lembongan, where the wild population may not be able to fly back to Nusa Penida. It is crucial that a new bloodline is introduced to Lembongan, to boost the genetic quality of the birds. That’s the goal of our release of 4 to 6 birds on December 20,” explained Wiryaudha.

Continuing, he said, “It is our hope that both populations - Nusa Penida and Lembongan – will become reservoirs of high quality Bali Starlings for eventual re-introduction to mainland Bali, once the problem of illegal poaching can be overcome.”

In unique partnership with local villages, FNPF transformed the whole island of Nusa Penida into a bird sanctuary where endangered birds can be released to rebuild wild populations. The threat from poaching and bird traders has been eliminated because local people are obligated to protect the birds by traditional Balinese community regulations (awig awig / hukum adat).

Elsewhere in Indonesia, poachers continue to be the greatest threat to endangered birds.

To date, FNPF has successfully rehabilitated and released onto Nusa Penida a wide variety of birds including Bali Starlings, Lesser Sulphur Crested Cockatoos, Mitchell Lorikeets, Moustached Parakeets and Java Sparrows.

In return for this community support and protection of the rare and valuable birds, FNPF operates programs that enhance the economic and social wellbeing of the island’s residents, including:

  • high school and university scholarships for poor families
  • conversational English language training
  • tree saplings for agro-forestry and reforestation
  • student conservation field trips and competitions
  • traditional Balinese dance lessons
  • marketing support for the island’s unique ikat weavers
  • promoting Nusa Penida as an eco-tourist destination and running a pilot project as model that local people can learn

More About the BALI STARLING (Leucopsar rothschildi)

The highly distinctive Bali Starling, also known as Bali Mynah or Jalak Bali, is one of the world’s most endangered birds. It is endemic to Bali and the island ‘s official mascot. The bird’s rarity and beauty has been the cause of their demise in the wild, with birds fetching over $1,000 on the illegal bird market.

Breeding Bali Starlings in captivity is relatively simple and there are hundreds of licensed Bali Starling breeders in Bali, Java and overseas. But the challenge to rebuild their numbers in the wild is the threat from poachers.

Over the last 25 years, hundreds of cage-bred Bali Starlings have been released into the West Bali National Park but there were less than 10 birds remaining in 2005. By comparison, FNPF released 74 Bali Starlings onto Nusa Penida in 2006 and 2011 where their population has grown to over 105 birds living and breeding freely in the wild.

“This is a distinctively Balinese approach to conservation … by Balinese, for Balinese. It demonstrates how Balinese conservationists can work in partnership with local Balinese communities to achieve successful outcomes,” said Dr. Bayu.

[Website Friends of the National Parks Foundation]


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