It’s a scene out of a nightmare – thousands of birds are packed tightly into small cages in Indonesia’s markets. Trappers supplying these markets are driving thirteen species to the brink of extinction and are having an incalculable impact on biodiversity. Tell the Indonesian government to ban the trade now.
A smuggler was arrested in May 2016 with 23 yellow-crested cockatoos that he had crammed into plastic water bottles. Weakened by their ordeal, half of the birds died. Only 7,000 yellow-crested cockatoos still live in the wild. Richard Thomas of Traffic International explains that the water-bottle method is “commonly used to smuggle these protected birds”.
Many Indonesians keep wild birds as pets and status symbols, and trade with birds captured in Indonesia’s forests is reaching dramatic proportions. Ornithologists fear that trafficking is accelerating the extinction of numerous species. According to a study, ruthless trappers are threatening the existence of 13 species and 14 subspecies, including Indonesia’s national bird, the Javan hawk-eagle (Nisaetus bartelsi) and the Javan green magpie (Cissa thalassina).
The offerings at Jatinegara bird market in Jakarta include chattering lories – forest-dwelling parrots found only in North Maluku whose population has plummeted by as much as 50 percent in the last past 25 years.
Indonesia has an abundance of bird life: scientists have counted 1,615 species, of which 419 are endemic. The destruction of Indonesia’s rainforests is cutting into their habitat, however, and hunting is worsening the situation. The knock-on damage of the bird trade is incalculable, as many tree species depend on birds for their seed dispersal.
A study by Oriental Bird Club counted no less than 19,000 birds, many of endangered species, in three markets in Jakarta alone.
While the birdcatchers mainly supply the domestic market in Indonesia, the international bird trade is also big business. Rainforest Rescue therefore advocates a worldwide ban.
Please call on Indonesian President Joko Widodo and his government to ban the trade in wild birds.