Bali Myna

Scientific Name
Leucopsar rothschildi
Family
Genus
Conservation Status
Critically Endangered (CR)

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Wikipedia Article

The Bali Myna (Leucopsar rothschildi), also known as Rothschild’s Mynah, Bali Starling, or Bali Mynah, locally known as Jalak Bali, is a medium-sized (up to 25 cm long), stocky myna, almost wholly white with a long, drooping crest, and black tips on the wings and tail. The bird has blue bare skin around the eyes, greyish legs and a yellow bill. Both sexes are similar.
Placed in the monotypic genus Leucopsar, it appears to be most closely related to Sturnia and the Brahminy Starling which is currently placed in Sturnus but will probably soon be split therefrom as Sturnus as presently delimited is highly paraphyletic (Jønsson & Fjeldså 2006). The specific epithet commemorates the British ornithologist Lord Rothschild.
The Bali Myna is restricted to the island of Bali in Indonesia, where it is the island's only endemic vertebrate species. (An endemic subspecies, the Bali Tiger, has been extinct since 1937.) The bird was discovered in 1910, and in 1991 was designated the fauna symbol of Bali. Featured on the Indonesian 200 rupiah coin, its local name is "Jalak Bali".
In its natural habitat however it is far less conspicuous, using tree tops for cover and–unlike other starlings–usually coming to the ground only to drink; this would seem to be an adaptation to the fact that it is instantly noticeable to predators when out in the open. The Bali mynah often gathers in groups to better locate food and watch out for predators. The Bali Myna's diet includes fruit, seeds, worms and insects.
During breeding season, males attract females by calling loudly and bobbing up and down. The birds nest in tree cavities, with the female laying and incubating two-three eggs. Both males and females bring food to the nests for chicks after hatching.
The Bali Myna, Bali’s regional mascot, is critically endangered, hovering immediately above extinction in the wild for several years now (BirdLife International 2006). The Bali Myna is listed in Appendix I of CITES. Trade even in captive-bred specimens is strictly regulated and the species is not generally available legally to private individuals. However, experienced aviculturalists may become affiliated with the captive-breeding program, allowing them to legally keep this species. The exact number of birds remaining in the wild is unknown, with estimates in 2012 of 24 adults in West Bali National Park and over 100 on the Balinese island of Nusa Penida. At least 1,000 birds are believed to be held in captivity legally. The number of captive birds bought on black market is estimated to be twice the number of legally-acquired individuals in the captive breeding program. There are 2 remaining locations on Bali where the birds exist in the wild: the West Bali National Park; and Bali's small island of Nusa Penida
There were an estimated 350 birds in the West Bali National Park in the 1980s. During the 1990s over 400 cage-bred birds were released into the park to increase their numbers. But by 2005, the park authorities estimated the number to have fallen to less than 10. This decline was caused primarily by poachers responding to the lucrative demand for rare birds in the caged bird market.
The second and much larger population of Bali Mynas Bali Starlings now exists on the island of Nusa Penida and its sister islands of Nusa Ceningan, Nusa Lembongan, which are 14 km off the south east coast of Bali. The islands have been transformed into an "unofficial" bird sanctuary by (Friends of National Parks Foundation) (FNPF), an Indonesian NGO based in Bali. This was achieved by FNPF working for many years with the 40+ villages on the islands and persuading every village to pass a traditional Balinese village regulation to protect birds, and effectively removing the threat of poachers. Since then, FNPF has rehabilitated and released many endangered birds onto the island of Nusa Penida, including many Bali Mynas supplied from multiple breeders. In 2006 / 2007, FNPF rehabilitated and released 64 cage-bred Bali Starlings belonging to Begawan Foundation. FNPF's monitoring of the released birds state that their numbers had increased to +100 by 2009, and had spread across Penida, with small numbers also breeding on Ceningan and Lembongan. In 2011, FNPF released 10 Bali Mynas donated by US Fish and Wildlife Service and bred by Indonesia's most experienced Bali Starling breeder, Mr Soehana Otojoe, who has bred over 750 Bali Starlings since the 1980s. FNPF will release another 10 Bali Mynas in mid 2012 and again each year. The birds will be sourced by FNPF from different breeders to continuously increase the genetic diversity of the growing wild population on Nusa Penida, The success of the Bali Myna project to create a wild population on Nusa Penida is primarily due to the threat of poachers being removed, combined with a successful breeding, rehabilitation and release program. The removal of the threat from poachers was achieved by Drh I. Gede Nyoman Bayu Wirayudha (veterinarian) and his Indonesian NGO, Friends of the National Parks Foundation (FNPF) by persuading all Penida communities to protect birds. FNPF spent 2 years counseling all of the key people of influence on the Penida islands on the benefits of protecting birds and conservation. In 2006 all 35 villages (now 41 villages) unanimously agreed to make bird protection part of their traditional regulations (“awig-awig”), making it a social and spiritual obligation for all Penida residents to protect birds. Bali Starlings and other endangered birds that are released by FNPF onto Nusa Penida are now protected by the local communities. Monitoring of the birds by FNPF indicate that none of the released Bali Starlings or their subsequent offspring have been stolen. FNPF retains the ongoing commitment of the Penida communities to protect birds through a variety of community development and community education projects ... all of which bring social and economic benefits to the local residents. The initial batch of Bali Mynas that FNPF released onto Nusa Penida were bred by Begawan Foundation in Ubud, Bali, under expert supervision by Bali’s leading avian veterinarian, Drh I. G. N. Bayu Wirayudha (founder of FNPF). His methodology ensured that the birds were bred and prepared to survive in the wild. Two pairs of birds were purchased from the aviaries of Mr Nick Wileman, a successful and knowledgeable breeder living near London, and brought to Begawan Foundation’s breeding facility in Bali on 24 June 1999. By November 2005, Begawan Foundation’s captive population had grown to 97 birds. Subsequently FNPF has released Bali Mynas supplied by other breeders. This is to increase the genetic diversity of the growing Bali Starling population on Nusa Penida. FNPF will continue to source Bali Starlings from a variety of the large number of Bali Myna breeders operating in Indonesia and internationally (over 200 breeders now operate in Java alone) and then release them onto Nusa Penida. The birds and enclosures belonging to Begawan Foundation were transferred to FNPF's bird centre on Nusa Penida and over a period of 2 years, FNPF rehabilitated and released 64 birds onto Nusa Penida. On July 10, 2006, 25 micro-chipped birds were released into the wild during a ceremony that involved local villagers, temples and provincial and local government officials. Microchips were supplied by Theo Pagel, Director of the Cologne Zoo in Germany. Within two weeks of their release, several birds had paired up and were observed bringing nesting materials to a variety of local trees, ficus, sugar palms and coconuts. Their first eggs had hatched by September 10, and on September 28, three birds instead of two were observed on the nesting tree. Twelve more birds were released on December 12, 2006, and this flock was soon joined by two young birds that were the offspring of birds from the first release. On April 28, 2007, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of the Republic of Indonesia and First Lady Kristiani Herawati accepted an invitation from FNPF's founder, Drh I. G. N. Bayu Wirayudha, to release a further 12 birds, when they visited Nusa Penida to celebrate the launch of a ferry service to mainland Bali. Further official recognition came during a visit to Nusa Penida on August 25 by the Indonesian Forestry Minister M. S. Kaban and Dr Ir Tonny Suhartono, the Director General for Forestry Preservation and Nature Conservation. These two dignitaries officially announced that the island was a suitable site for further releases of Bali Starlings. FNPF and Begawan Foundation continue to monitor and observe the birds in the wild, tracking where the birds nest and breed, ensuring that each bird released or born is followed throughout its life. This important role ensures that any future releases will be made with planned knowledge of how the bird survives in the wild, what food is required, and how it breeds. On November 27, 2011, Bali Governor, I. Made Mangku Pastika visited the FNPF bird centre on Nusa Penida and released 10 Bali Starlings into the wild. The birds were donated to FNPF by US Fish and Wildlife Service and bred by Mr Soehana Otojoe, the most experienced Bali Myna breeder in Indonesia. The cage bred birds spent 5 months at FNPF's Centre being rehabilitated prior to the release. The birds were selected specifically from bloodlines that are not linked to the birds from the previous releases so that they increase the genetic diversity of the current population on Nusa Penida.
A 'breeding loan' involves 12 breeders who each received 15 male and 15 female from the association of Starling Conservationists from Bogor, West Java. As a collateral every breeder should put up a cow in case all the birds died. The breeders are obliged to release 10 percent of the brood into the national park and the rest can be sold off privately.