Indonesia: Green pigeon in danger of extinction due to hunting

Markus Makur The Jakarta Post 17 May 16;

The widespread hunting of birds in Flores has left many bird species, some endemic to the area, on the verge of extinction. Local bird species are mostly found in the Ndora-Aegela forest, a vital water catchment area and their main habitat. The forest around Ulupulu village, in Nagekeo regency, East Nusa Tenggara, is a vital habitat and requires protection. Among others, the green pigeon, locally known as punai, has long been considered a favored catch among local residents for the dual purpose of consumption and trade. Locals also poach eagles and crows.

On March 14, Samuel Rabenak, of the Burung Indonesia conservation group, visited the area and reported that several Flores pigeon species were at risk of extinction.

“Burung Indonesia members are conducting a study in the forest for the purpose of environmental protection and public awareness. Residents must not poach birds in the forest,” Rabenak told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Nagekeo regent Elias Djo said the local administration had prohibited citizens from hunting birds. The Ndora-Aegela is a protected forest and residents are prohibited from hunting in the region, he said.

“Bird hunting is prohibited in the forest. I’ve forwarded the information to the Nagekeo Forestry Office to patrol the Ndora-Aegela forested area,” said Elias.

The Natural Resource Conservation Center, located in Flores, said Monday that all wildlife species in conservation areas and protected forests have been listed as protected in order to maintain sustainablilty and balance in the ecosystem. Birds function to pollinate flowers and disperse seeds.

“Ensuring that people are aware that it is important not to hunt is very important, for the sake of sustainability and for the preservation of the forest ecosystem. Birds are vital to human survival. The government continues to inform people to not hunt birds in the forest,” Elias said.

The Burung Indonesia team recently identified two prized endemic bird species in the Ndora-Aegela forest; the Flores crow ( Corvusflorensis ) and Flores serindit/parrot ( Loriculus flosculus ). The Flores serindit is currently listed as critically endangered.

The discovery of the Flores serindit in the Ndora-Aegela forest is good news for bird lovers as well as biodiversity conservationists.

These findings can provide a new alternative for bird watching activities in Flores. The Ndora-Aegela forest is oft dismissed by bird enthusiasts who tend to visit the Mbeliling forest and Ruteng Nature Park in West Flores.

It seems the local community is less aware of the importance of the region both from the standpoint of biodiversity as well as water catchment.

“Flores is an international bird watching destination, a place to explore the jungle and observe birds endemic to Flores. Crowds of international bird watchers visit Flores Island, attracted by some of the rarest endemic birds in the world,” he added.

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