Asia’s first Songbird Trade Crisis Summit was held in Jurong Bird Park, Singapore this month. It urges the Asian governments to put an immediate end to the illegal and unsustainable trade that is decimating the region’s wild bird populations and take legal action against offenders. The common wild birds are vanishing at an alarming rate.
The summit was co-organized by Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), TRAFFIC and Cikananga Wildlife Center. Over 35 experts gathered to identify, propose action and save rare birds found in the Greater Sunda region. The experts agreed upon a priority list of 30 songbird species in the Greater Sunda region that face extinction and identified 12 species needing immediate action.
Only three of these high-priority birds are currently categorized as “Critically Endangered” on the IUCN Red List: Javan Green Magpie, Black-winged Myna and Bali Myna. This suggests an urgent need to reassess the status of many of these priority species. Indonesia has the highest number of endemic bird species in the world and the highest number of bird species in Asia. It also has the highest number of threatened birds globally (131), second only to Brazil (164), a country over five times its size. Of the 184 endemic Indonesian species being sold in Indonesian bird markets, 22 are listed as being protected by national law and all are collected outside of the nation’s zero harvest quota.
Joint action by academics, NGOs, and zoological institutions through better education and community outreach, the establishment and expansion of ex situ assurance and breeding colonies such as those
currently found at Jurong Bird Park and further research into the taxonomy and wild populations of the birds must also be complemented with better trade monitoring, enhanced legal protection and effective enforcement.
The importance accorded to poaching of Africa’s rhinos and elephants overshadow the crisis for Asia’s wildlife, said Dr. Sonja Luz, Director of Conservation & Research at Wildlife Reserves Singapore. Wildlife Reserve Singapore is committed to conserve priority Asian songbirds through continued support for in situ projects, and to work towards holistic and collaborative conservation action. A specialist group under the IUCN will urge a swift action by the regional governments and conservation organizations to save the songbirds from being silenced forever,” said Professor Nigel Collar of BirdLife International.