Bali starling all but gone from Nusa Penida (OBC, 2015)

The Oriental Birding Club's magazine Forktail (no.31, 2015) reports that the Bali starling has virtually disappeared from Nusa Penida, apparently as a result of poaching. This article (p.5) is part of a larger article (P1-12) entitled 'Trade-driven extinctions and near-extinctions of avian taxa in Sundaic Indonesia', written by J.A.Eaton, C.R.Sheperd, F.E.Rheindt, J.B.C.Harris, (B) van Balen, D.S.Wilcove & N.J.Collar.

forktail 31 2015 coverBali Myna (Leucopsar rothschildi)

The repeated efforts to reverse the remorseless decline of this iconic species, only known from the west and north-west of Bali and confined for the past forty years to Bali Barat NP, have been documented in detail (van Balen et al. 2000, BirdLife International 2001). Domestic and international trade in the species occurred as far back as 1968, and in the mid-1970s illegal extraction from the wild was estimated to be 40-60 birds per month; supplementation of the wild population with captive-bred birds may have prevented the species from ever quite disappearing, although there was a period in 2003-2005 when birdwatching groups could never find it despite the reassurances of park staff, and independent evidence suggests that it 'became extinct in the wild in 2006' (Jepson 2015). Even the supplementation process fell victim to trade demand when in 1999 an armed gang with suspected military links stole 39 birds from pre-release holding cages (BirdLife International 2001). Poaching is acknowledged to persist in the park (T. Sutedi verbally 2015), and all birds now at liberty on Bali must be assumed to derive from locally sourced captive stock, given that there has been no international engagement with the conservation of the species this century, other than maintaining captive populations as a reserve (Jepson 2015).

An attempt has been made to establish a population on Nusa Penida (Dijkman 2007, 2014), an initiative portrayed as demonstrating the superiority of bottom-up community-supported conservation — which 'embraced the affordances of the Bali starling's phenotype (its beauty and simple ecology) to construct (or adopt) identities suitable to local cultural contexts' — over the top-down internationally driven work that preceded it (Jepson 2015). However, recent evidence suggests that other affordances (the species's market price) have been rather more tightly embraced, since the birds have almost or entirely disappeared from the island, seemingly as a result of poaching (M. Halouate, D. F. Jeggo and A. Owen verbally or in litt. 2015). Meanwhile, in October 2015 an international meeting was convened on Bali to review the status and needs of the current endeavours with the species, and reengagement of foreign interests and stakeholders is developing — a move that further subverts the conclusions in Jepson (2015).


Eaton, J.A. et al. (2015) - 'Trade-driven extinctions and near-extinctions of avian taxa in Sundaic Indonesia', in: Forktail, Journal of Asian Ornithology, Number 31, p.5

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