Bali Starling Conservation Project
In 1999, Bradley and Debbie Gardner – the creative forces behind the world-renowned Begawan Giri Estate on Bali, Indonesia – decided to establish Begawan Foundation as a means to contribute to the local community in the areas of education, health and the environment.
The Bali Starling Conservation Project was Begawan Foundation’s first initiative, established in 1999 with the aim of saving the Bali Starling from the very real threat of extinction.
ASAP Species That We Work On
With its clear white feathers, black-tipped wing and tail feathers, long drooping crest and amazing bare blue skin surrounding its eyes, the Bali Starling is one of the world’s most beautiful birds. The beauty and the gentle, trusting nature of these birds, however, have worked against them, making them prized catches among poachers. Local and overseas demand led to a drastic decrease in its numbers. At one point, there were thought to be only 5 birds left living in the wild.
The Bali Starling was registered as an endangered bird species by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) in 1970. Several organisations have tried to help it survive since then, but the wild population has still not increased to a sustainable level. Besides the destruction of its habitat, the major problem facing the bird’s repopulation is theft, both from official breeding facilities and from the wild.
Although numbers increased in the early years following the releases of 2006 and 2007 (especially in the number of juveniles flying), the most recent audits undertaken by BKSDA and Begawan Foundation/Wildlife Reserves Singapore have sighted only a few birds and no flocks. Villagers met during the early 2015 audit mentioned that they had not seen birds in trees that provided nesting holes for several years. While it was expected that there would be mortality due to natural predators, numbers have declined to such a degree that it can only be assumed that trapping is the main cause for the fall in numbers.
What We Do
Captive Breeding and Release
Begawan Foundation supports wild populations of Bali Starling through captive breeding and reintroduction.
The Bali Starling Conservation Project commenced when Begawan Foundation purchased two pairs of birds from the aviaries of Mr Nick Wileman, a successful and knowledgeable breeder living near London, and brought them "home" to Bali on 24th June 1999. By November 2005, this captive population had grown from four to 97 birds.
In 2005, most of the birds and enclosures were moved to a newly established bird sanctuary which was set up in 2004 on Nusa Penida, a small island south of mainland Bali.
Before release, Bali Starlings were prepared for reintroduction to the wild by giving them the opportunity, whilst still enclosed, to search for food and water rather than finding it in a bowl. It was intended that the release of these birds be a 'hard release' with no assistance offered in provisions or shelter once they were out of the enclosures. Released birds are monitored to track breeding success in the wild.
Since 2012, following their move to a site in Sibang in central mainland Bali, Begawan Foundation has undertaken four small ‘soft releases’, and a fledgling flock, consisting of released birds and their offspring are observed on a daily basis. The threat of poaching remains, with education, conservation awareness and ways in which to involve local communities, both adult and student, seen as the only way in which to protect such highly endangered birds.
Since its initial conservation efforts, the Begawan Foundation’s Bali Starling Conservation Project has grown, with many zoos and organisations helping with captive breeding, reintroduction and monitoring efforts.
Find out more about the project here.
Web & Social Media
Begawan Foundation (featured image)