New Hope & Home for Endangered Bali Starling at Green School
The Green School in Bali has a new added attraction. A home and breeding ground for the endangered Bali Starling has been established there by the Begawan Foundation, which has already had great success in breeding the precious bird in captivity and releasing into the wild. Carolyn Kenwrick of The Green Asia Group has the full story.
The Bali Starling
This report from Carolyn Kenwrick of The Green Asia Group (6 September 2010):
A bird on the edge of extinction? Many species are currently in this dangerous position, and our attitude towards this planet brings rare animals and birds closer to this edge daily.
According to the latest update in May 2009 of the IUCN Red List, the bird portion of which is Bird Life International’s domain, 12% of known bird species are threatened; and nine new species are listed as critically endangered.
In 1999, Bradley and Debbie Gardner, the creative forces behind the world-renowned Begawan Giri Estate on the Indonesian island of Bali, set out to breed the Bali Starling with a privately funded captive breeding programme.
The Bali Starling had been registered as an endangered bird species by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) in 1970. The bird that had lived in its small corner of Bali for a long time, in modern times was becoming increasingly rare in the wild – and now teetered on the edge of extinction.
Two pairs came back to Bali from England in 1998. By 2001, with the establishment of Begawan Foundation, the number of birds had risen to thirty six and a section of the open area at Begawan Giri Estate was filled with carefully designed aviaries, enabling guests to see these endangered birds, and giving the Bali Starlings a safe place in which to breed.
By 2005, with a total of 97 birds successfully raised, most of the birds, along with their cages, were moved from the Estate to a newly established bird sanctuary, set up in 2004 by Bayu Wirayudha, who established Friends of National Parks Foundation (FNPF) on Nusa Penida, a small island south of mainland Bali, and a release program took place over the next four years.
In 2009, with a sustainable flock on Nusa Penida, the decision was made to bring the remaining captive birds to Green School on mainland Bali, and to start a new breeding program in readiness for a release program on mainland Bali.
The plan was for the Bali Starlings to arrive at Green School in October 2009. In August 2010, they finally arrived. Long wait, but the enclosures were constructed, the bamboo kitchen and quarantine room, in typical Green School bamboo, in place, the gardens planted. Arrival date was August 2nd with the birds taking the journey from Nusa Penida to Green School escorted by Department of Forestry officers.
15 breeding enclosures are currently occupied by a lone Papuan Pouched hornbill who needs a mate, 3 pairs of Mitchell’s Lorikeets and 11 pairs of breeding Bali Starlings. The four Java peacocks occupy the large net enclosure where they have plenty of room to fly and to show their fantails.
The breeding enclosures have been stocked with small palms, a useful source of nest material, tree branches for perches are in place, as are sprinklers to ensure a daily bath. The nest boxes are being installed, and hopefully, we can set up an internal camera so that the laying of eggs and the raising of the young can be observed easily.
The young Bali Starlings and Lorikeets are in the large socialisation enclosure where they will mature and find a mate, and be ready to move to a breeding enclosure. Live trees here emulate the outside world, and as the trees grow, they will provide fruit. The small pool provides daily water, as do the overhead sprinklers.
Begawan Foundation has recently signed an agreement with Bali Bird Park, where the two new birdkeepers undertook their training prior to coming to Green School.
The project on Nusa Penida is about to enter another stage. Alongside Bali Bird Park, Begawan Foundation will oversee an independent third party audit to confirm the number of birds currently flying free.
A report has also been made that a couple of Bali Starlings have made the flight across to Nusa Lembongan where they have nested and raised a chick. This audit, conducted over several counts, will give us the opportunity to write up the project scientifically.