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  • The first time I visited one of these big bird markets, I was just shocked and astounded

  • to see the volume of birds that were in the market and the number of different species.

  • The songbird black market is immense, it crosses every border, it's across the globe.

  • We really felt that it was so important to actually start working with some of these

  • species before it was too late before they were driven over the precipice and became

  • extinct.

  • The ones in Jakarta, particularly the one called Pramuka Bird Market which is actually the

  • biggest wildlife market on the planet is a really depressing place to visit actually

  • as someone who's a bird lover, someone that's very passionate about conservation.

  • Unless we can control and stop the illegal wildlife trade in these songbirds the inevitable

  • result is going to be the extinction of multiple species across Southeast Asia.

  • So these forests really are falling silent.

  • So I've worked in the zoo community as a aviculturist, if you like a bird enthusiast, for many

  • many years.

  • Conservation has always been the driving force behind everything that I do.

  • And in Indonesia in particular, the songbird crisis is at such a height that I felt that

  • we really needed to do as much as we possibly can to try to protect these wonderful endemic

  • species.

  • I've been working within Indonesia with partner organizations, conservationists for a number

  • of years trying to save those species that have been driven to the edge of extinction

  • through the illegal wildlife trade.

  • As you walk in through these dark damp corridors, the initial thing that hits you is the smell

  • the smell of birds and bird mess, bird feces and under every corner there's a little shady

  • bird shop where there's birds cramped into tiny little cages under the covers in dark corners.

  • There's often dead birds in the gutter where they've thrown out to feed the cats of birds

  • or having survived over the night.

  • These birds are trapped by local trappers and then they go to a middleman

  • who trades the birds across the whole Indonesian archipelago, these birds may have to travel

  • for many days over, even thousands of miles to get there.

  • The vast majority of these are songbirds.

  • They are very unique in their adaptations are amazing.

  • They have beautiful colors, generally, many of them are a bright green, some are red.

  • They are very often, of course have very lovely songs.

  • And those are the ones that are most highly prized the birds that have incredible voices.

  • So one element of the bird keeping industry within Indonesia is the bird singing competitions,

  • and these are incredible events to see to witness.

  • At least competitions there'll be many people there, all of the bird keepers will be hanging

  • their birds up under a large canopy there'll be 30 or 40 birds in each competition.

  • It's a really frenzied environment where all of the bird owners are screaming and shouting

  • at their birds to try to encourage them to sing louder.

  • The value of these prizes is incredibly high for the top champion.

  • The top champion white rump Sharma, for example, the prize could be something like $50,000

  • for the winner, or occasionally, we've heard rumors that the winner will win a house or

  • a big fancy motorcar.

  • Very often the wild caught birds are the highest in demand if you like

  • they're the birds that they really want so they always feel that the wild caught birds

  • have more vigor than the captured birds.

  • That sort of fuels the trade in these illegally

  • caught birds rather than focusing on the captive bred bird.

  • If the bird is a protected bird,

  • he will use the ring.

  • So some of those birds have leg bands on, leg rings on on which is which are able to identify them

  • as captive bred, there is an element of captive breeding going on, but they also sometimes

  • put leg bands onto birds so the clearly wild caught.

  • These birds are really important to the ecosystem within Southeast Asia.

  • Many of the birds are fruit eater so they're very important seed dispersers.

  • They're also very important pollinators as well.

  • There may be elements here where the insectivores play a role in terms of pest control

  • within the environment.

  • So they're extremely important.

  • It's actually very difficult to rescue or confiscate birds from the markets, but when

  • we do they end up in our conservation breeding center partners, where they're able to breed

  • and reproduce and with hopefully with the ultimate aim of getting these birds back out

  • into the wild.

  • But of course it's very important that we have safe secure environments where we can

  • do so.

  • So we have to work and we want to work with local communities, so that we can create nice

  • environments for the wildlife but also for the local people in Indonesia, as well.

  • And we're looking at alternative livelihoods for these people.

  • So, the bird trappers, we want to change their mindsets and really give them alternative

  • occupations or livelihoods so that they don't need to rely on catching birds from the wild.

  • The main sort of ambition if you like is really to try to have bird watchers of the future

  • rather than bird keepers right so that's a long term aim but hopefully we'll get there

  • in the future.

The first time I visited one of these big bird markets, I was just shocked and astounded

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B1 bird indonesia wildlife captive wild conservation

Inside the Illegal Songbird Trade in Indonesia

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    林宜悉 posted on 2021/03/02
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