Songbirds in Asia are threatened with extinction due to the excessive and strongly cultural rooted consumption of wild songbirds for trade, songbird competitions, pets, export, traditional medicine and food. This campaign aims to save a growing number of songbirds by increasing knowledge, awareness and commitment to do action within and beyond the zoo community.

Songbirds in Southeast Asia have become the subject of an excessive but culturally deep-rooted consumption for trade, singing competitions, pets, status symbols, export, traditional medicine and food.

Demand for songbirds in Southeast Asia is extremely high, affecting hundreds of species and involving millions of individual birds, annually. The trade is often illegal and evidently unsustainable; thus, it has been recognised as a primary threat for many species in Southeast Asia, particularly the Greater Sunda region. Comprising of Brunei, western Indonesia (Bali, Java, Kalimantan and Sumatra), Singapore, Malaysia, southern Myanmar and southern Thailand, the Greater Sundas are an ecologically diverse region, home to more than 850 bird species, and globally recognised as a biodiversity hotspot with high levels of endemism. Currently, Indonesia has one of the highest number of bird species assessed as threatened with global extinction in the world and the highest one in Asia (Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable; IUCN Red List, 2017).

Campaign goals

The campaign focuses on the following activities:

Within the EAZA region:

  • Increase awareness in the general public and within the zoo community.

  • Fundraise for conservation efforts to prevent extinctions.

  • Provide ideas and information to enable environmental education in zoos.

  • Provide expertise, mentorship and manpower to support conservation breeding programs and related ex-situ research activities.

Within the natural range:

  • Increase regional awareness and implement environmental education strategies in cooperation with local and international stakeholders.

  • Develop regionally relevant husbandry guidelines for all focus species, and support their legal and scientifically managed breeding in-region.

  • Build awareness and capacity for law enforcement within the region.

  • Initiate, develop and support in-region conservation breeding centres where this is deemed necessary.

  • Support research initiatives designed to improve the scientific basis of reintroduction programmes

tHe pROblEm

WhAt aRE we DoIng?

wHat CaN yOu do?

Helping is easy. Here are a few tips.

  • While you are on vacation in the Asian region, help detect illegal wildlife trade by using the smartphone app Wildlife Witness. This app allows tourists and locals to easily 10 report wildlife trade by taking a photo, pinpointing the exact location of the crime and sending these important details to TRAFFIC, one of the main campaign partners. You can download this app on www.wildlifewitness.net. 

  • Help spread information about the crisis among other tourists and locals in your home area. Even wild bird populations in Europe are collapsing due to the trade in Asia (see the story of the Yellow-breasted Bunting on the campaign website). But not just for the trade in Asia, even in France and Mediterranean region songbirds such as Ortolan Buntings and Blackcaps are illegally captured and eaten. Support the campaign against bird killing (see www.birdlife.org/campaign/stop-illegal-bird-killing). • Record wild birds on vacation or at your home using birding smartphone apps, such as eBird by Cornell Lab (ebird.org). These apps provide an opportunity to share your bird data with researchers and other birders directly from the field, making your birding more valuable to conservation and helping you track your observations over time.

  • Although Southeast Asian songbirds seem to be so far away and you don´t travel much beyond your backyard, you can still help conserve local bird populations. Join the citizen science projects organised by birdwatching clubs and get involved in local bird surveys.

  • Help us to collect binoculars! Give your old binoculars to the zoo or organize a binocular collection at school or at your company or club. The binoculars will be sent to the campaign office in Zoo Liberec twice a year (June and December) where they will be collected. In order to advertise “birding” we will provide your discarded (but still functional!) binoculars and inspire local people in Asia to develop empathy towards the environment and stimulate them to protect it. The binoculars will be distributed to eco-centers across Indonesia via the NGO Green-books.org, which helps to raise awareness about nature and sustainable practices in communities using children’s education and books as a starting point. Furthermore, well-guided birdwatching tours are in vogue and tourists pay for them, so this is a good opportunity for local guides to earn money. You will find more information on the resources page. Bird-friendly garden.

  • It is quite simple to create a bird-friendly garden with just a little time and effort. Many songbirds that used to be commonly seen in European gardens are decreasing in 11 numbers. By turning your garden into a small-scale, bird-friendly reserve, you can make a difference to local bird populations. It is a great chance to teach children to take care of the environment by involving them in planning and making your garden bird-friendly. For more information you can also visit previous EAZA campaign Let it Grow websites: www.letitgrow.eu.

  • In winter, of course, you can install a bird-feeder, which is a great way to enjoy wildlife at its best. Prepare winter food for birds together with kids and you may sell it to gather money for the campaign. Before spring put up your own nest-box and help increase the breeding success of local birds. Prevent bird collisions by reducing the transparency and reflectivity of dangerous glass areas. See: www.abcbirds.org/program/glass-collisions or www.windowcollisions.info or www.wua-wien.at/images/stories/publikationen/wua-vogelanprall-muster.pdf.

  • Keep your domestic cat indoors and encourage friends and family who keep cats to do the same.

  • Engage with your local BirdLife partner organization in your area, join guided tours and learn about local threats and needs for songbirds.

The Bali Myna (Leucopsar rothschildi) is a Critically Endangered Asian (specifically Indonesian) songbird and one of the most iconic bird species on the planet. It owes this twin status to its extraordinary beauty, being snow-white in plumage with black primaries and tail-tips, plus a yellow-tipped bill, blue eye-ring and flowing crest. However, it is also regarded with astonishment by biologists because it possesses great evolutionary distinctiveness (the sole member of the genus Leucopsar) and yet is confined to an island (Bali) which is biogeographically so closely linked to Java that no other bird species—and certainly no genus—is endemic to Bali alone.

We keep Bali Mynas (starlings) at the HCC, one of the campaign's flagship species!

The Bali Myna (Leucopsar rothschildi) is a Critically Endangered Asian (specifically Indonesian) songbird and one of the most iconic bird species on the planet. It owes this twin status to its extraordinary beauty, being snow-white in plumage with black primaries and tail-tips, plus a yellow-tipped bill, blue eye-ring and flowing crest. However, it is also regarded with astonishment by biologists because it possesses great evolutionary distinctiveness (the sole member of the genus Leucopsar) and yet is confined to an island (Bali) which is biogeographically so closely linked to Java that no other bird species—and certainly no genus—is endemic to Bali alone.

Trapping for the domestic and international cage-bird trade has played a major and probably principal part in the decline of the Bali Myna to virtual extinction in the wild. While the captive population steadily built up over the past five decades, the single population in the wild inexorably fell until, in around 2006, it may briefly have disappeared altogether. In its native range the species now survives, only as a result of annual supplementations of captive-bred birds, in tiny numbers in Bali Barat National Park (BBNP), north-west Bali, Indonesia. Birds released on Nusa Penida, south-east of Bali (not known to be part of the original range) are conflictingly reported to have disappeared or proliferated, but the most recent evidence suggests that a population at least survives there.

In addition to this, a number of private initiatives have sprung up around Bali with the aim of establishing local populations of free-flying birds released from captivity, including the Begawan Foundation, Sibang, southern Bali, and the Menjangan Monsoon Resort, bordering Bali Barat National Park. This three-year project will support the Indonesian authorities in establishing significant free-flying, safe and sustainable populations of Bali Myna in Bali Barat National Park (BBNP) and other sites. Project activities are diverse and our plan flexible, but a constant is that all activities will be undertaken as knowledge partnerships between relevant authorities within Indonesia, the Bali myna conservation society (APCB), the Bali Myna International Advisory Board (IAB), and other interested parties. It includes a major radiotracking project to monitor post-release birds, and a variety of conservation-relevant studies by an existing PhD student and Indonesian students.

​PrOjeCt oBjECtIVes

  • Devise robust pre-release, release, and post-release protocols with input and agreement from multiple stakeholders

  • Introduce a robust system of monitoring and studying released Bali Mynas in BBNP using standard radio-telemetry tracking to determine the key ecological needs of the species

  • Support Indonesian students/ecologists to conduct studies of Bali Myna