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By: Nitya Swastika

The Bali Starling is a white bird with the iconic blue “eye mask”. The gentle and docile nature of these birds makes them a valuable and easy catch for poachers.

After 1912, and its introduction to the western world, this bird became famous, especially in Europe and America. Several hundred of these were imported into the US and Europe during the late 1960s and most of the 1970s. Local and foreign demand caused a drastic decrease in the number. At one point, it was estimated that there were only 5 birds left alive in the wild.

The species was eventually included in Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) when Indonesia ratified it in 1978 (Jepson, 2014: 6). During the late 1970s and early 1980s, the wild Bali Starling population never exceeded more than about 200 birds. In 2002, the number was estimated to have dropped to around 16 – and that was after the Governor of Bali released 10 birds from the captive facilities of the West Bali National Park to join five Bali Starlings, believed to be still living in the wild at the end of 2001. 

The Bali Starling has been protected by Indonesian law since 1970 and its status as Threatened has been listed in the IUCN Red Book since 1988. Several organizations have worked to keep them alive since then, but the wild population has still not increased to sustainable levels. Apart from habitat destruction, the main problem facing bird repopulation has been theft, both from official captive facilities and from the wild.

We organised new signboards for Melinggih Kelod Village, Payangan, Gianyar, to forbid illegal hunting and put these up in each Banjar Dinas – Pengaji, Karang Suwung, Peneca, Bayad, Tibekauh, and  Begawan. Due to the good support from the local government of Melinggih Kelod Village, we have also included a village regulation initiated by village officials regarding the prohibition of hunting wild animals including Bali Starlings.

The installation of these signboards in June was undertaken by the the Kelihan and Bendesa from all Banjar Dinas. The Kelihan and Bendesa are very supportive and are happy to invite and persuade the local community to participate in the conservation of the Bali Starling. We hope these boards will influence the local community not to hunt wild animals, especially Bali Starlings.

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