A police officer holds plastic bottles in which a yellow-crested cockatoo, still alive, was found. (JG Photo/Fully Syafi)

Bird Species Extinction Threatens Indonesia's Unique Biodiversity


MAY 25, 2016

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.