Bali starling (Media, 2014)

The Bali Starling in Indonesian media in 2014.

Saving the Bali starling (Jakarta Post, 22 April 2014)

Gilimanuk, Bali. The jalak bali is a beautiful white bird with blue decorative skin around the eyes. As an endemic species of Bali symbolizing purity and chastity, it is also called the Bali mynah, the Bali starling, Rothschild's mynah and the Rothschild starling. Scientifically named Leucopsar rothschildi Stresemann, the Balinese call it curik bali or jalak bali. The bird was first discovered in 1911 by German ornithologist Erwin Stresemann in the northwestern part of Bali.

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Image left: Young ones: Baby birds at a conservation center in Ubud, Bali. JP/Theresia Sufa

As monitored by a team of the Association of Bali Mynah Conservationist (APCB) and Ecosystem Control officers at Brumbun Bay Resort, West Bali National Park (TNBB), the birds like to flock together with sri gunting (ashy drongo), because these song birds are more aggressive toward eagles, which are the natural enemies of curik bali. Curik bali's presence in the forest attracts attention, with its white feathers making it easy to spot. To avoid detection by eagles, they often perch on branches of pilang (Acacia trees), which have white bark that can camouflage them.

For the protection of curik bali in nature, in 2004 the APCB, whose members comprise executives of zoos in Indonesia, the Forestry Ministry, bird researchers from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) and members of the Indonesian Wildlife Conservation Forum (Foksi), conducted a survey in the TNBB to ascertain the causes of world agencies' failure in curik bali conservation. It turned out that the failure was due to illegal logging and curik bali poaching, while the park itself was under threat and unable to optimally support the threatened species.

"Since 2004, we've been trying to encourage the captive breeding of this endangered species by involving local people in conservation activities, which is backed by a Forestry Ministry decree permitting the public, particularly the community around the TNBB, to keep and breed curik bali," said the head of the APCB, Tony Sumampau, when monitoring the birds in the park in Gilimanuk, Bali.

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Image right: JP/Theresia Sufa

In 2007, captive breeding activities in the TNBB area spread. The price of a curik bali was initially about Rp 15 million (US$1,310), which later decreased to Rp 6 million. The birds bred under such conditions are not considered ideal due to having been inbred. For better genetic quality, the APCB has sought new stock and collected 96 bird samples tested by LIPI specialists.

LIPI curik bali researcher Noerdjito said the birds could be genetically improved in captive breeding. Fledglings should be selected for cross breeding to obtain the best offspring. However, the birds are generally released without this happening. "I've repeatedly notified the TNBB of the need to select the young curik bali, but the message may not have been properly received due to frequent post transfers, while the birds kept in several zoos in Indonesia should also be cross-bred for their best broods," explained Noerdjito.

Besides the Ainun Yaqqin Foundation being located some 4 kilometers from the TNBB, 17 curik bali breeders also live in Sumber Kalmpok village, Buleleng regency. They belong to the Curik Bali Conservationists Group (KPCB) of Manuk Jegeg. Based on a consensus between the breeders and the APCB, 10 percent of the birds bred are released.

However, the breeders are disappointed by the difficulty in securing a license to sell curik bali. "We breed curik bali the same way we raise our cattle. We appeal for distribution license facilitation to enable us to sell the birds and buy insects and fruit for the young broods. We applied for a license from the Natural Resources Conservation Agency [BKSDA] a year ago but have had no response," said Gusti, a breeder from Sumber Klampok.

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Minister Releases Endangered Bali Starlings (Tempo, 3 January 2014)

Jakarta. On December 31, 2013, Minister of Forestry Zulkifli Hasan, released a pair of the critically endangered Bali Starlings back into the wild at the bird sanctuary in Nusa Penida island [One pair was released at Pantai Penida, Crystal Bay*].

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Image left: Indonesia's Minister of Forestry end up the last day of 2013 with released a pair of critically endangered Bali starlings (Leucopsar rothschildi). Friends of the National Parks Foundation.
 
The Minister said that "[he is] very delighted to release these magnificent birds into the wild. I asked FNPF [Friends of the National Parks Foundation] and all of the people here on Nusa Penida to fulfil part of the Ministry of Forestry's commitment to protect and enhance this native endangered bird as our natural resource that needs to be preserved."
 
The beautiful Bali Starling is Bali's regional mascot and is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List, and is listed on Appendix I of CITES because its population had declined drastically in 2005 and only less than 10 species were predicted to remain.
 
FNPF's Founder and Director Bayu Wirayudha stated that "[he was] so happy that finally the whole range of Forestry Department ranging from the West Bali National Park, Department of Forestry's Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), and Minister have officially shown their support for, and cooperation with FPNP."
 
This is the second time a Minister of Forestry has ever released birds on behalf of FNPF. In 2009, the previous Minister of Forestry Ms Ka'ban visited Nusa Penida to release two Bali Starlings at the FNPF community centre. (*)
 
*) personal notification by Bayu Wirayudha, FNPF, www.fnpf.org

Source

Endangered Bali Starlings Given New Home on Island Bird Sanctuary (The Jakarta Globe, 27 December 2013)

A pair of endangered Bali Starlings taken from West Bali National Park are to be set free at a bird sanctuary on a small island east of Bali, an activist said on Friday. The starlings, known locally as Jalak Bali, will be released on Nusa Penida island on Dec 30, I Gede Nyoman Bayu Wirayudha said in a press release.

Bayu is the founder and CEO of the Friends of the National Parks Foundation (FNPF), a non-profit that works to protect wildlife in habitats. The organization manages the sanctuary on Nusa Penida island. "Indonesia's Minister of Forestry, Zulkifli Hasan, will release the birds in a special ceremony near our conservation centre at 10 a.m. on Monday," Bayu said. "These birds will bring a new blood line to the more than 100 Bali starlings already living in the wild within the island sanctuary."

The FNPF has been providing technical support and advice to the park's Bali starling conservation program for more than 10 years. Bayu said that the two starlings were given in exchange for starlings from FNPF's breeding collection on Nusa Penida. The sanctuary, the only one of its kind in Indonesia, provides an unofficial haven for endangered birds.
FNPF claimed that the project had the backing of the islands' 46 villages.

The sanctuary also had the backing of the Bali Bureau of Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), which recently sponsored the installation of four bird's nest boxes on the island, along with the donation seeds and polybags for FNPF's nursery.

The Bali starling is one of world's most endangered birds. Nusa Penida is home to an estimated 100 Bali starlings today, up from just 10 birds in 2006.

Earlier this month, conservation officials in Solo, Central Java, imposed new rules for the trade in the critically endangered species, in a bid to stamp out the illegal practice of passing off wild-caught birds as captive-bred ones.

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