Indonesia is home to more than 1,600 bird species, but the uncontrolled and illegal pet trade of these animals is threatening to drive at least 13 species into extinction, a wildlife watchdog group warns.
In a new study, wildlife trade monitoring group TRAFFIC revealed just how severe a threat the pet trade in Indonesia is to the native birds. It turns out, aside from 13 species at risk of extinction, another 14 subspecies are in danger as well.
Study author Chris Shepherd, the Southeast Asia regional director of TRAFFIC, says the number one thing they want the public to know is that the illegal bird trade is an incredibly pressing issue that needs to be addressed.
"It is a conservation crisis that is being ignored," says Shepherd.
In random order, the list of threatened species include the following:
1. Indonesia's national bird, the Javan hawk-eagle (Nisaetus bartelsi)
2. Silvery woodpigeon (Columba argentina)
3. Scarlet-breasted lorikeet (Trichoglossus forsteni)
4. Yellow-crested cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea)
5. Helmeted hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil)
6. Black-winged myna (Acridotheres melanopterus)
7. Javan green magpie (Cissa thalassina)
8. Bali myna (Leucopsar rothschildi)
9. Javan white-eye (Zosterops flavus)
10. Straw-headed bulbul (Pycnonotus zeylanicus)
11. Rufous-fronted laughingthrush (Garrulax rufifrons)
12. Java sparrow (Lonchura oryzivora)
13. Sumatran laughingthrush (Garrulax bicolor)
The Javan hawk-eagle is a dark-brown raptor with a pointy crest of feathers that extend from its head. The study says only 300 to 500 hawk-eagles remain in the wild. What's more, the number born each year is equal to the number taken for the pet trade, so the population is never balanced.
Although the helmeted hornbill is not at risk from the pet trade, researchers say thousands of these animals are being slaughtered for their "ivory." The bird's solid wedge above its beaks is in high demand and is carved into artwork and jewelry.
Additionally, researchers say many of these bird species only have a couple of dozen individuals alive in the wild.
Shepherd says what is needed is stricter enforcement of laws that protect birds in Indonesia. In the country's culture, birds are widely considered as pets and are typically given as gifts to government officials, but this value has put a high price on the animals' heads.
Shepherd says enforcement agencies and lawmakers need to realize how urgent the issue is.
"The world needs to know that illegal trade is wiping out our birds," adds Shepherd.
The details of the report are featured [PDF] in the journal Forktail.