Begawan Foundation celebrated its 20-year journey on 28 February 2021. On our 20 year anniversary, we cherish our work giving back to the local community in Bali and protecting one of Bali’s treasures, the critically endangered Bali Starling. The Bali Starling (Leucopsar Rothschildi) is an iconic and precious species as it is the only endemic vertebrate on the Island since the Bali Tiger (Panthera Tigris Sondaica) became extinct.

We realize that the failure of the numerous breeding and release programs has been due to the relentless poaching and the lack of involvement and engagement from the community. Therefore, we believe that engaging the local community is an effective and important approach.

With that in mind, we have involved the local community of Melinggih Kelod village to take an active role in the conservation work. Headed by I Wayan Susana, local community breeders from Melinggih Kelod village are participating in the community-based breeding and safe release of the Bali Starlings from their own compounds, adding to a program that commenced in this village  in 2017. To build togetherness with the local community, we often hold events together such as a party to celebrate the end of the year and embrace the new year with the local breeders’ community.

This month, our activities with the community also involve training and the monthly breeders’ meeting to share experience, knowledge, challenges, and ideas. Begawan Foundation is teaming up with the local community for the upcoming bird release event to be held this April, from the local community compounds.

We have been educating young children from Melinggih Kelod village in our own bamboo Learning Centre since 2018, focusing on the importance of conservation with the aim to build an environment-conscious generation. We educate and empower them with a student-centric, ‘learning by doing’ curriculum to foster creativity, critical thinking, ability to speak their minds, and to prepare them to create a better future. We want them to be a smart generation that will be more equipped to deal with and tackle environmental issues.

To celebrate the Begawan Foundation’s 20th anniversary, the students performed their own drama performances entitled “The Friendship between The Cendrawasih Bird and The Bali Starling” and “The Princess and The Sea”. They used their imagination to create their own story lines, and to build their own sets and costumes. Their dramas tell stories about protecting the ocean from waste and about the danger of illegal animal hunting.

Looking back at our journey, involving the village community and empowering the village children have both been integral in our conservation efforts. We are blessed to have received support from the village and its leaders. We are excited to embark on our journey ahead. Happy 20th Anniversary Begawan Foundation! (Naomi Tribuana Festilani)

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