Bali Starling: West Bali National Park (2009)

The two articles below, in The Bali Times (November-December 2009) shed light on the struggle of the Bali Starling in its original habitat, the West Bali National Park (TNBB). Allegedly, the wild population in 2009 was around 80 birds but is under threat, yet again. This time, the threats are high-voltage electricity lines & pipelines.

Power Plan 'Threatens' Endangered Bali Starling

Bali-Starling-power-plan-Bali-Times-2009-11-27-02Image: Our Jalak: Still Battling

Bogor - The plan to overcome Bali's critical shortage of electricity by running high-voltage power lines through the West Bali National Park could further endanger the rare and protected Jalak, known as the Bali starling, according to a Bogor ornithologist.

Jarwadi B Hernowo of Bogor's Institute of Agriculture said he feared increased poaching of the starling would result if the national park in the far west of Buleleng and Jembrana regencies was opened up for the power project. "There's no guarantee that there won't be any poaching of the birds or destruction of their habitat," said Hernowo, who recently studied the starling population in the national park, which numbers only 80 birds. "It's a security problem that threatens the species. "The shortest way to connect the two islands (Java and Bali) is through Lampu Merah, Labuan Lalang, Kotal and Brumbun, most of which is part of the national park," said Jarwadi. "So the project will certainly affect the habitat." If power lines passed over the national park, he said, supervision by forest rangers must be tightened to prevent poaching of wildlife and destruction of conservation areas.

Bali Governor I Made Mangku Pastika has supported the plan to beat future massive power blackouts on the island by running electricity on pylons from Java across the Bali Strait to Jembrana. The new high-voltage aerial transmission line would cross the narrow strait from Java to Bali at 350m and then run on 45m pylons from Jembrana to Denpasar. The governor has won support for the project from some Hindu community leaders, but others have opposed it because, they say, it may compromise the sanctity of Hindu temples in the area, and he has yet to convince some environmental activists.

Monopoly state-owned power provider PLN has said the project would not pass through the national park and that transmission towers to support the cables would be installed along the perimeter of the park and would not impinge on the protected area. PLN Bali general manager Arifuddin Nurdin said PLN had discussed the plan with Bali's provincial government to ensure minimum impact on the park. PLN's plan is to run the high-voltage cables 45m above ground level, higher than the area's tallest trees. A programme of breeding the Bali starling in captivity and releasing it to its natural habitat in the park has boosted numbers of the endangered species from a low of only five birds in 2005 to 80 birds today.

National Park head Bambang Darmaja called for a win-win solution to the issue. "We must ensure the species is not threatened, and at the same time the project must go ahead to supply more power to Bali," he said. "We support the project, so long as we can find a win-win solution." The Forestry Ministry has not yet issued a permit for the project and is expected to wait for the results of an environmental-impact study by park officials, scientists, academics and government officials. More than 51,000 applicants in Bali are waitlisted to be connected to electricity.

PLN last week said rolling blackouts across Bali initially scheduled for two months until December 10, while it does essential maintenance to its power plant at Bali's northwest, would cease yesterday, Thursday Nov. 26.

Artisans and other small businessmen in Bali say they have suffered substantial losses because they can't work during blackouts. The proposed high-voltage grid, which planners want to start building next year, would supply 1,600MW of electricity at 500,000 volts, which is forecast to meet Bali's estimated growth needs to 2019.


  • 'Power Plan 'Threatens' Endangered Bali Starling', in: The Bali Times - BALI News Nov. 27 - Dec. 3, 2009

Rare Bird Needs Help to Breed

DENPASAR The population in the wild of Bali's rare and protected bird, known as the Bali starling, has increased to around 80 from a critical low of only five birds in 2005, says the director general of biodiversity conservation in the Forestry Department, Harry Santoso. The increased population largely results from release of captive birds, he said, and the should simplify licensing procedures so more starlings could be bred in captivity.

The biggest challenge was to maintain the genetic purity of the starling by ensuring it was not bred with other species. Bali's starling association estimates 700 to 900 starlings live outside their natural habitat, West Bali National Park, and says their sale price has fallen to Rp 7 million ($700) a bird from Rp 50 ($5,000).

Association chairman Tony Samampaw wants the forestry department to install 17 kilometres of pipeline in the national forest to green the starlings' natural habitat and ensure the birds have a food supply. He says severe drought had caused the birds to migrate to villages in search of food, where they are caught. Two hundred birds released in their West Bah forest habitat were unaccounted for and the wild population was only 80.


  • 'Rare bird needs help to breed', The Bali Times, 20-26 November 2009

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