Begawan Foundation is proud to announce that its new Breeding and Release Centre has been officially opened by Founders, Bradley and Debora Gardner, together with Ngakan Putu Riadi, representing the Breeding Divison at the Gianyar District’s Agriculture Office, Dewa Made Rupa, representing the Bali Natural Resources Conservation Agency’s (BKSDA) Gianyar Conservation Head Zone II, and Melinggih Kelod Village Head, I Nyoman Suwardana at Begawan, Melinggih Kelod Village, Payangan, Wednesday May 23 2018. Melinggih Kelod community breeders also attended the event.

The Bali Starling is a critically endangered species. According to Dewa Made Rupa, from the Breeding Divison at the Gianyar District’s Agriculture Office, the endangered status of the Bali Starling is due to “the main issue of hunting and poaching for pets”. Thus, in 1999, Begawan Foundation created the Bali Starling Conservation program with the aim of increasing the population of the endangered bird into its wild habitat. The Foundation released sixty-five Bali Starlings in 2006 and 2007 on Nusa Penida island and sixteen Starlings at Sibang from 2010 to 2012. However, many of the birds released were captured by poachers.

To monitor released birds, Begawan Foundation will involve the local community, which has an important role to play in the fight against wildlife crime. The Foundation also engages with the local community to participate in bird conservation, which is often challenging and arduous. Along with the community-based breeding program in Melinggih Kelod Village, the Breeding and Release Centre is now centred in the banjar of Begawan itself, open to all breeders and the local community.

Begawan Foundation implemented the community-based conservation program in Melinggih Kelod in October 2017. The Foundation has joined with the local community to ensure support through collective patrolling and an awareness not to poach or sell wild or released birds. Breeders have also recently formed the Melinggih Kelod Breeders Association to enhance the implementation of the program. Through the Bali Starling conservation program, the residents of the local villages will benefit through eco-tourism and other tourism opportunities.  Begawan Foundation Founder, Bradley Gardner, during his speech said that “the community-based conservation program has been devised to support the community with business opportunities and to support the existence of wild Bali Starlings, Bali’s Mascot.”

In response to the arrival of the Bali Starlings at Melinggih Kelod, Melinggih Kelod Village Head, I Nyoman Suwardana, said that “with the breeding centre and the community-based conservation program in the village, support and awareness from locals will automatically be increased in order to reach our mutual goal of conserving and reintroducing the endangered bird’s population back into the wild.”

The Foundation also runs a number of education and after-school programs in Payangan, Bali. The curriculum is focused on conservation and environmental protection, and has resulted in a formation of a group of Bali Starling Eco-warriors that are passionate about protecting Bali Starlings and their environment. Representative from the Breeding Divison at the Gianyar District’s Agriculture Office, Ngakan Putu Riadi, appreciated Begawan Foundation’s programs and said that “the programs held introducing the Bali Starling would be a great step in spreading the spirit of conservation to the wider public.”

We also want to extend our appreciation for the support from our Bali Starling Ambassadors who performed “Liko and Koli” at the ceremony. The play is about two Bali Starlings which were stolen from the wild to be sold at the bird market.

Melinggih Kelod Banjar Heads, school principals from Melinggih and Melinggih Kelod, representative from the Payangan Police, and Como Shambala Estate General Manager Ram Hiralal, also attended the event. The Centre itself currently has fifty-three Bali Starlings, eight Mitchell’s and Forsten’s Lorikeets, as well as three Black-Winged Starlings. Visitors are encouraged to contact the Foundation prior to visiting. See you at the new site! (Seruni Putri)

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