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Begawan Foundation’s Bali Starling community-based conservation project in Melinggih Kelod village has engaged local communities to protect the critically endangered bird species since 2018. One of our staff members, Kadek Sanjaya Winangun, who works at the foundation’s Breeding and Release Centre as the bird keeper, comes from the local community of Banjar Pengaji, Melinggih Kelod. On a daily basis, he is responsible for the preparation and feeding of the birds, the maintenance of the breeding site, its cleanliness and hygiene, observation and pairing of young birds, and also monitoring of released birds.

Kadek is twenty years old now and at his young age, he is skilled in terms of bird care and breeding. He has assisted in monitoring the birds as well as working with our photographer to identify and capture photos of the wild birds around the village. His interest in birds started when he was in primary school, when he collected birds, such as cilalongan, cucuk, and decu. He likes birds because of their beautiful voices. One of his favorites is his cilalongan which he has had for 10 years.

Who would have thought that he has also had the experience of being a bird poacher when he was in middle school four years ago. Back then, he did not always have much money, therefore he could not afford to buy birds. He poached birds in the rice fields in Banjar Pengaji with his friends using an air rifle, mostly the cinglar, prenjak kepala merah, and cucuk. Unlike his hunting buddies, he never sold any of the birds he caught, his interest was to take care of  them at home.

Working at Begawan Foundation has provided him with a knowledge of the need for conservation of the local wildlife. For him, it has been an honor and a life changing experience to be the keeper of a critically endangered bird species. One of the many things he likes about his job is witnessing the hatching of the eggs. Since it is his job to pair the birds as well, it means success for him when the pair breed.

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