Indonesia: Bird Species Extinction Threatens Indonesia's Unique Biodiversity

Ratri M. Siniwi Jakarta Globe 25 May 16;

Jakarta. A worldwide study has found 13 Indonesian bird species, including the Garuda-like Javan Hawk-eagle, face a serious risk of extinction due to the illegal pet trade.

Home to one of the world’s richest biodiversity environments, Indonesia has over a thousand bird species across the archipelago.

With Indonesia's long tradition of bird keeping, the country has topped a worldwide poll with 28 threatened bird species. Brazil, in second place, has 24 threatened species.

The Javan Hawk-eagle is at risk, along with the newly rediscovered Silvery Wood-pigeon, Helmeted Hornbill, Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Scarlet-breasted Lorikeet, Javan Green Magpie, Black-winged Myna, Bali Myna, Straw-headed Bulbul, Javan White-eye, Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush, Sumatran Laughingthrush and Java Sparrow, with an additional 14 bird subspecies also in danger.

Most of the species are kept as domestic pets with thousands more killed to be illegally traded overseas, as a substitute to China's ivory demands. Others are excessively hunted.

“Whether it's species or subspecies, the message is the same: excessive trade is wiping out Indonesia’s wild bird species at an alarming rate,” said Chris Shepherd, Southeast Asia director at wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic and co-author of the study.

As reported by the Straits Times, the industry is worth millions, with players profiting illegally from the business.

“There’s a huge criminal element,” he added on Wednesday (25/05).

The wildlife watchdog urged governments and conservation organizations to take further action in preventing the loss in bird species and not only focus their wildlife protection programs for orangutans, tigers and elephants.

In the study titled ‘Trade-driven extinctions and near-extinctions of avian taxa in Sundial Indonesia’, the authors provided solutions such as better law enforcement, public awareness campaign, conservation breeding and market and genetic surveys.

In April, authorities recovered smuggled birds stuffed in plastic bottles trafficked from West Papua to Surabaya.

The police found 34 birds, including 4 birds-of-paradise, 6 cockatoos and 15 parrots and the remaining found dead due to lack of oxygen, as reported by environmental website Mongabay Indonesia.

The first case of smuggled 22 yellow-crested cockatoos stuffed in plastic bottles surfaced social media last May, where they were found being trafficked in Surabaya.


Indonesian birds face extinction due to pet trade – study
Indonesia’s national bird, the Javan hawk-eagle, is among 13 species threatened by illegal trade, warns a wildlife watchdog
Agence France-Presse The Guardian 25 May 16;

Thirteen species of Indonesian birds, including the country’s symbolic Javan hawk-eagle, are at serious risk of extinction mainly due to the pet trade, a wildlife watchdog warned Wednesday.

The vast Indonesian archipelago is home to a dizzying array of birds and keeping them as pets has long been part of the national culture, with birdcages a common sight outside homes and shops across the country.

However increasing demand for some species as pets has led to dramatic population declines, wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic warned in a new study.

“This is a multi-million-dollar industry, there’s a huge criminal element and many people are profiting illegally from this business,” Chris Shepherd, Traffic’s director for south-east Asia and a co-author of the study, told AFP.

Huge demand for songbirds in Indonesia has also put bird species in other countries such as Malaysia and Thailand in danger, Shepherd said.

The Javan hawk-eagle is Indonesia’s national bird and the inspiration for the Garuda, the mythical winged creature that adorns the country’s coat of arms.

Other species at risk of extinction include the silvery woodpigeon, yellow-crested cockatoo, scarlet-breasted lorikeet, Javan green magpie, black-winged myna, Bali myna, straw-headed bulbul, Javan white-eye, Rufous-fronted laughingthrush, Sumatran laughingthrush and Java sparrow.

The helmeted hornbill is also at risk but unlike the others, is not kept as a pet. Thousands are being illegally killed and traded for their unique “casques” – a solid lump of fibrous protein that runs along the top of the bill and on to the skull.

It is used as a substitute for elephant ivory, to meet demand in China, according to Traffic.

It is illegal to hunt birds in the wild in Indonesia and sell them as pets but critics say the law is often flouted, and major bird markets in cities still operate freely.

Shepherd said that government efforts to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade too often focused on endangered species such as orangutans, tigers and elephants, and did not do enough to protect birds.

The Traffic report called for a range of solutions to tackle the problem, including better law enforcement and public awareness campaigns.

Trade wiping out Indonesia’s bird species
TRAFFIC 25 May 16;

Jakarta, Indonesia, 25th May 2016—A new study has revealed that 13 bird species—including Indonesia’s national bird, the Javan Hawk-eagle—found in Sundaic Indonesia are at serious risk of extinction because of excessive over-harvesting.

The study also finds that an additional 14 bird subspecies are in danger of extinction. The driver behind this crisis is the enormous demand for birds for the domestic pet trade.

The keeping of birds as pets in Indonesia is an integral part of the national culture, yet the high levels of demand for some species have fuelled excessive hunting with the populations of many rapidly disappearing.

Besides the Javan Hawk-eagle, the other full species at risk include the Silvery Woodpigeon, Helmeted Hornbill, Yellow-crested Cockatoo, Scarlet-breasted Lorikeet, Javan Green Magpie, Black-winged Myna, Bali Myna, Straw-headed Bulbul, Javan White-eye, Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush, Sumatran Laughingthrush and Java Sparrow.

Although most of them are kept as pets, the Helmeted Hornbill is an exception: as TRAFFIC recently revealed, thousands are being illegally killed and traded for their unique solid bill casques, carved as a substitute for elephant ivory, to meet demand in China.

Another of them, the Javan Green Magpie, was recognized as a full species as recently as 2013—and simultaneously documented as in grave danger of extinction owing to trade pressure. In direct response, the Threatened Asian Songbird Alliance (TASA), operating as a formal body of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA), initiated a programme of captive breeding in a number of zoos, as assurance colonies, for security and propagation purposes.

Such conservation breeding is the last hope for some of the taxa affected. According to the study: “Regrettably five subspecies…are probably already extinct, at least in the wild, due primarily to trade.” They include one subspecies of a parrot (Scarlet-breasted Lorikeet), three subspecies of White-rumped Shama, an accomplished songster and one of the Hill Myna, popular because of its ability to mimic human voices.

“Whether its species or subspecies, the message is the same: excessive trade is wiping out Indonesia’s wild bird species at an alarming rate” said Dr Chris Shepherd, TRAFFIC’s Director for Southeast Asia, and a co-author of the study.

“Despite the alarming scale and consequences of the bird trade, governments and even conservation organizations often don't view this issue as a high priority. This hampers efforts to prevent further losses.”

The solutions to the bird trade crisis in Indonesia lie in a combination of better law enforcement, public awareness campaigns, in situ management, conservation breeding, conversion of trappers to wardens and field, market and genetic surveys, say the study’s authors.

Meanwhile as certain favoured species disappear because of trapping, others are targeted as “next-best” substitutes, while commercial breeders sometimes hybridise taxa for “better” effects, leading to further conservation complexities.

The study’s authors also consider whether commercial breeding could help alleviate the situation, but conclude that “while attractive in theory, [commercial breeding] presents difficulties that are probably insurmountable in practice.”

Trade-driven extinctions and near-extinctions of avian taxa in Sundaic Indonesia (PDF, 220 KB) was published in Forktail, the journal of the Oriental Bird Club.

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