Tighter Rules for Starling Trade (Jakarta Globe, 2013)

Tighter Rules for Starling Trade

(Jakarta Globe, 10 December 2013) Solo. Conservation officials in Solo, Central Java, have imposed new rules for the trade in the critically endangered Bali starling, in a bid to stamp out the illegal practice of passing off wild-caught birds as captive-bred ones.

balistarling jakartaglobe dec2013Image right: Two young Bali starlings. (Wikimedia Commons)

Chrystanto, the head of the Central Java Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), said on Sunday that the regulation, taking effect immediately, would give his office full authority to certify the origin of birds destined for the pet trade. "Before today, these certificates were issued by each farm registered as a bird-breeding facility," he said. "But we found fake documents being issued by unregistered breeders, indicating they may be involved in illegal trading."

The certificates issued by the BKSDA are printed on the same type of paper used to print money and come with a watermark, making them virtually impossible to forge, Chrystanto said. He added that only registered breeders would be allowed to obtain the certificates, which are required when transacting the sale of the Bali starling, whose trade is tightly regulated.

Samino, a registered Bali starling breeder from the Lintang Songo bird farm in Solo, welcomed the new measure, saying illegal traders had frequently issued fraudulent certificates bearing his farm's name to make it appear as though they had obtained their birds from him. "They produce these certificates using my name as if the birds were bred by me," he said. "I hope the new, secure certificate from the BKSDA will ensure that only legally bred birds are permitted for trade."

Demand in the pet market for the Bali starling, a member of the myna family with an all-white body, black wing and tail tips, and dramatic patches of dark-blue skin around the eyes, has long been fueled by the bird's rarity.

The starling is found in the wild only in Bali and is protected by law. Poaching of the bird reached such critical levels in the 1990s and early 2000s that by 2005, there were estimated to be only six individuals left in the wild, according to the BKSDA.

To revive the population, conservation authorities allowed breeders who already owned captive starlings to sell them in the pet trade, previously prohibited, in exchange for submitting 10 percent of their birds for release back into the wild in Bali.
Solo has 46 registered Bali starling farms with a combined 900 birds, the most of any city in Indonesia.


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