The Bali Starling is thought to have always been uncommon, however it is hard to imagine that upon its discovery in the early 1900’s anybody could have imagined it becoming such an iconic species in a battle against extinction. Its beautiful white feathers contrasted with the bare, blue skin surrounding its eyes as well as its peaceful, trusting temperament led to the bird becoming famed worldwide, specifically amongst the cage bird trade. What followed was a ruthless pillaging of Bali Starlings from their natural habitat in Indonesia until populations fell dangerously low; at one point dipping below 10 in the early noughties.
In 1999, the Begawan Foundation started their Bali Starling Conservation Project with the purchase of two pairs of birds from an experienced breeder in London. Throughout the 1990’s the population of Bali Starlings fluctuated from a mere 15 individuals at the start of the decade, before rising due to conservation initiatives and then ultimately crashing to six birds in 2001, thus the project was a vital turning point in the Bali Starlings survival story.
Adopting a professional approach and surrounded by superb facilities, Begawan Foundation soon began to witness captive breeding successes, with 97 birds by the end of 2005. This resulted in most of the birds and their enclosures being moved from the estate to a sanctuary on Nusa Penida, where a number of birds were prepared for release. Intending to give the birds a “hard release”, they would receive no assistance regarding food or shelter once released. The results of the release were a great success, as after two weeks the birds were seen to be pairing up and building nests.
What followed was a further series of releases until with an established flock on Nusa Penida, the foundation once again moved their captive birds and enclosures to Sibang on mainland Bali in order to commence a new breeding program in 2010. However since then, their monitoring of the birds on Nusa Penida has revealed that they are in rapid decline. The most recent audit revealed just 10 birds in Nusa Penida.
This worrying decline reveals just how fragile the long-term survival of the Bali Starling is. Although the situation is now better than it was during the 1990’s thanks to the hard work of organisations like Begawan Foundation, the threat of poaching and theft for the exotic bird trade is still prevalent. One thing is certain however, the Bali Starlings survival is now dependent on dedicated conservation work.
To find out more about Begawan Foundations work:
Their website can be found here
You can follow them on Twitter here and like them on Facebook here
All Images Copyrighted By Begawan Foundation
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