Nusa Penida, October 17, 2013 -THE FIGHT to save the one of the world’s most endangered birds, the Bali starling, just got a major boost with the hatching of four healthy tiny chicks at Friends of the National Parks Foundation’s (FNPF) center on Nusa Penida island.
The tiny chicks, hatched about a fortnight ago, are the offspring of two pairs of birds at our community center in the island’s Ped village.
We brought the hatchlings’ parents, from West Java’s Soehana Oetodjo, one of Indonesia’s most experienced Bali Starling breeders, to Nusa Penida last December in the hope they would breed. They came with six other Bali starlings, which were released on nearby Lembongan island.
One of the four healthy chicks at FNPF’s community center on Nusa Penida island
“It’s very exciting – these are the first offspring after 10 months,” says FNPF’s Founder and CEO, Dr I.G.N. Bayu Wirayudha. “We would like to show to people interested in the captive breeding of starlings for conservation that you don’t need fancy cages. We used very simple, secure, inexpensive enclosures, which met wildlife welfare standards – something that people on Nusa Penida can copy.
“Also we trained our local staff to breed the birds, showing you don’t need any specialist skill to do this – it’s very much about how much you care about the birds,” he says.
FNPF is a grassroots conservation NGO, working to protect wildlife and its habitat, at the same time as supporting local communities. Our projects have been recognized by global organizations such as the United Nations Development Programme and the Whitley Fund for Nature.
FNPF has transformed Nusa Penida, 14km off the coast of Bali, into an unofficial bird sanctuary and a haven for the Bali starling. We gained the trust of the 46 villages and persuaded each to introduce traditional Ballinese regulations to protect endangered birds and Bali’s emblem bird, the Bali Starling (Leucopsar rothschildi), from poachers and wildlife traders.
Today the sanctuary, which also takes in two nearby islands, is estimated to be home to more than 100 Bali starlings. When we started in 2006 there were believed to be less than 10 of these birds surviving in the wild.
FNPF’s Nusa Penida Bird Keeper Nengah Sudipa, himself a former wild bird poacher, is rapt with the new arrivals. “I am so happy.”
He helped to select the birds that would be kept for breeding from 10 Bali starlings that arrived last year. “I watched for 10 days and finally determined the two pairs that looked harmonious and often sing together. After four months, I was worried because the birds only make nests and did not lay the eggs.”
Nengah was thinking about releasing the starlings because they didn’t seem interested in breeding. “Luckily, God answered my question. The next morning when I cleaned the nest box it contained two chicks. I am so happy and busy going back and forth to make sure they are healthy. Two days later, two tiny chicks hatched again from the next cage.”
Dr Wirayudha says next year some of the hatchlings will be released on Nusa Penida, and some loaned to local people interested in getting involved in captive breeding. “Whoever is given the opportunity of a breeding loan should return at least double the number of birds that they receive, and those birds can then be released back on Penida.”
FNPF has won the ongoing commitment and support of the Penida communities to help protect birds through its work operating a variety of community development and community education projects, all of which bring social and economic benefits to the local residents.
We rely solely on donations to fund our work saving the endemic a Bali starling. Please support our project by sponsoring the rehabilitation and release of a Bali starling or Sponsor a Bali Starling nestbox and we will attach a plaque in your name. Thank you to Alan El Kadhi for covering the cost of purchasing these 10 Bali starlings.