Conservation and Research Actions Underway
The species has been nominally protected under Indonesian law since 1979. It occurs in at least one protected area (B. van Balen in litt. 2007). Two conservation projects have been carried out on Java: a breeding programme at the Cikananga Wild Animal Rescue Centre in Sukabumi, West Java, and planned future reintroduction of birds in Cikepuh Nature Reserve (Braasch 2007). The Cikananga breeding programme (holding birds of the nominate form) had produced over 200 chicks by early 2012, and 25 birds were released into nearby regenerating forest as a trial reintroduction in 2012, using nestboxes made in local villages (Collar et al. 2012). Two further reintroduction trials have been set up; one in Antam Pongkor Gold Mine in Gunung Halimun Salak National Park and one in the Rawadanau Nature Reserve in Banten Province, where on 25th December 2013, 25 birds were released with 21 remaining at the end of December (Tritto 2014). The Antam Pongkor Gold Mine reintroduction ceased in 2016 following the transfer of site ownership to the National Park authorities. Previously strict security was relaxed and unfortunately trapping resumed almost immediately, reducing the number of birds to only 8 from a growing population founded by over 40 individuals (Tritto 2017).
Conservation and Research Actions Proposed
Conduct intensive research into the year-round ecology of the species to clarify its requirements, and the role of trapping and pesticides in causing declines. Promote widespread, strict and effective enforcement of capture and trade regulations (including CITES listing [Shepherd et al. 2015]), focusing activities on protected areas and bird markets. Implement awareness raising activities to discourage people from purchasing protected wildlife (Shepherd et al. 2015). Control use of agricultural pesticides (if these are found to be a significant constraint), especially in key areas for the species. Develop the programme of captive breeding (Collar and Butchart 2013) and increase security measures at breeding centres to prevent further incidences of theft (Shepherd et al. 2015).
The species is endemic to the island of Java, Indonesia, previously occurring throughout west and central Java and on adjacent Madura. It has undergone a widespread rapid decline since at least the 1960s, which in recent times has seen it extirpated from almost all of this range. It was formerly locally common in central and west Java, but there are only recent records from two locations in west Java, and at one of these the individuals are believed to have originated from escaped birds (Eaton et al. 2016, N. Brickle in litt. 2009).
The remaining wild population has been estimated to number only around 20 individuals (Eaton et al. 2015). This includes one location at which birds are considered to have originated from escaped individuals (Eaton et al. 2015). The species appears to have been lost from large parts of its former range within a relatively short timeframe, and there does not seem any indication that it will cease.
Capture for trade is the primary threat, and the main cause of its decline. The species remains highly desirable and is one of the most popular cage-birds on Java, an island famed for its huge bird markets and very high cage-bird ownership. Surveys conducted in July 2014 in three shops in Jakarta found the average unbartered price per bird was US$ 220, with birds sold as wild attracting the highest prices (Shepherd et al. 2015, S. Chng in litt. 2016). As there is currently little enforcement over the origin of birds offered for sale any birds that are remaining in the wild are at enormously high risk of being captured and sold. Captive-breeding of the species is assumed now to be producing virtually all the birds being sold, but birds without closed rings were still being observed in the markets in 2014 (Shepherd et al. 2015). The current operation of the market does not appear to provide any disincentive to the capture of wild birds (Shepherd et al. 2016), should there be any left to catch. The species's desirability is clearly illustrated by the organised theft in June 2014 of 149 captive bred A. melanopterus from the Cikananga Conservation Breeding Centre near Sukabumi (Kullmann 2014, Tritto and Sözer 2014), and commercial breeders are also now targeted. Additionally, genetic integrity has been lost due to the widespread mixing of the the three subspecies when birds escape, and seemingly sometimes deliberately in captive breeding for the market (Collar et al.2012, S. Chng in litt. 2016).
It has been suggested that excessive use of pesticides may have previously presented a significant threat, as the species habitually forages in open agricultural areas.
IUCN Red List Account Link
Anaïs Tritto (category and featured image)