Conservation and Research Actions Underway
The species has been nominally protected under Indonesian law since 1979. It occurs in at least two protected areas, Baluran National Park and Alas Purwo National Park, Java (Eaton et al. 2015).
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 currently focused on A. melanopterus to include the present species (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 Java, Indonesia. It has undergone a widespread rapid decline since at least the 1960s, when it was common in the plains of East Java, to the east of Gunung Bromo. Now rare and very localised, recent records have come only from Alas Purwo and Baluran National Parks, but a few may also persist in Meru Betiri National Park (Eaton et al. 2015). At Baluran NP the population may be increasing, with possibly more than 50 individuals and birds moving out of exclusively savannah areas (Marsden 2017).
The population is estimated to number fewer than 250 mature individuals in the wild, based on an assessment of recent records pertaining to this species (eBird 2016, S, Mahood in litt. 2009, Eaton et al. 2015). At Baluran NP there may now be more than 50 individuals (Marsden 2017), with a recent count of 37 reported (Robson 2016). At Alas Purwo the maximum recent count of individuals is 25 (Eaton et al. 2015). Additional birds may be present in Meru Betiri, but no recent records have been reported (Eaton et al. 2015). Thorough surveys of the remaining populations may reveal that the population is larger than estimated from the limited data available, though the population is clearly very small.
Capture for trade is the primary threat, and the main cause of its decline. This species 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 for the A. melanopterus group of species per bird was US$220, the high price indicating the species' scarcity in the wild (Shepherd et al. 2015). Three A. tricolor were observed for sale in a survey of the bird market in Bandung in September 2016, taken to be an indication of ongoing capture from the wild. Many A. melanopterus are now being captive bred to supply demand since the almost total collapse of the population of that species (Collar et al. 2012, Eaton et al. 2015), but A. tricolor does not appear to be as desirable. Genetic integrity has been lost due to the widespread mixing of the the three subspecies when birds escape (Muchtar and Nurwatha 2001, Collar et al. 2012), but the observation of an A. tricolor x A. melanopterus hybrid during the 2016 Bandung survey (S. Chng in litt. 2016) raises concerns that this may be a deliberate strategy by some private breeders, given that higher prices appear to be paid for birds with white mantles (Shepherd et al. 2015). In June 2014, three captive bred individuals were among nearly 160 threatened birds stolen from the Cikananga Conservation Breeding Centre near Sukabumi (Kullmann 2014, Tritto and Sozer 2014), and it appears that there is a greater desire for the A. melanopterus phenotype in the market. It has also been suggested that excessive use of pesticides may present a significant threat, as the species habitually forages in open agricultural areas.