The worrying impact of commercial trade on endangered bird populations in Indonesia

11 Jul 2016 - 10:14 -- Eduardo de Juana

There is growing concern over the impact of trade for pets, food, ornaments and medicines on animal populations in South-East Asia, and over the number of species being pushed towards extinction as a consequence. In particular, commercial trade, almost always for pets, represents a major threat to bird species and subspecies in Indonesia, where it is estimated to involve millions of birds annually. A recent review of the situation in Sumatra, Java, Bali and Indonesian Borneo found that 13 bird species and 14 additional subspecies are at risk of extinction there primarily as a result of the bird trade#R. The list includes up to six Critically Endangered species: Silvery Pigeon (Columba argentina), Helmeted Hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil), Yellow-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea), Short-tailed Green Magpie (Cissa thalassina), Black-winged Myna (Acridotheres melanopterus) and Bali Myna (Leucopsar rothschildi). Several races of other species may already be extinct. This list is regarded as conservative because (1) information on some species is inadequate for trade to be identified as a threat, (2) taxonomic revision will probably increase the number of full species at risk, and (3) taxonomically undifferentiated populations were not included in the review. Most wildlife trade in Indonesia is illegal, yet enforcement is almost non-existent. It must urgently become the target of serious government attention.

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Silvery Pigeon (Columba argentina)


Columba argentina

Bonaparte, 1857, #R Malaysia and Borneo.

Probably related to C. pulchricollis and allied species, possibly including C. punicea. Monotypic.

Descriptive notes: 34–38 cm. Mostly very pale bluish grey with black primaries and secondaries; tail greyish white on basal half, black distally; hint of green iridescence on hindneck; iris reddish brown, orange-brown, orange or yellow; orbital skin...
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Helmeted Hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil)


Buceros vigil

J. R. Forster, 1781, Sumatra.


Descriptive notes: 110–120 cm; male 3060 g, female 2610–2840 g. Distinctive, very large hornbill, mostly dark brown and white with long central tail feathers, relatively short bill cosmetically coloured red with preen oil. Male with bare red...
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Yellow-crested Cockatoo (Cacatua sulphurea)


Psittacus sulphureus

J. F. Gmelin, 1788, Moluccas.

Closely related to C. galerita and C. ophthalmica. Race citrinocristata distinctive by virtue of long peachy-orange vs...

Descriptive notes: c. 33 cm; 350 g. White cockatoo with long, forward-curving yellow crest feathers, yellow ear-coverts, and yellow undersurfaces of wings and tail; bill black; feet grey; eye black in male, red-brown in female; bare periophthalmic skin...
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Javan Green Magpie (Cissa thalassina)


Kitta thalassina

Temminck, 1826, Java and Sumatra.

Sometimes treated as conspecific with C. hypoleuca. Until recently considered conspecific with C. jefferyi (see that species). Monotypic...

Descriptive notes: 31 cm; c. 125 g. Distinctive and striking green magpie with comparatively short, bluntly graduated tail, slightly elongated rear crown feathers, rather prominent bill, nostrils concealed by soft plumes (not bristles); green, yellow...
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Black-winged Myna (Acridotheres melanopterus)


Gracula melanoptera

Daudin, 1800, “Inde“= Western Java.

Sometimes placed in genus Sturnus, but appears behaviourally and vocally closer to present genus. Hitherto treated as conspecific with A. ...

Descriptive notes: 23 cm. Small myna with striking black-and-white plumage; feathers of forehead, crown and nape hackled, and nape feathers elongated to form erectile crest. Adult is white, except remiges, which are black with bronze-green gloss (white...
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Bali Myna (Leucopsar rothschildi)


Leucopsar rothschildi

Stresemann, 1912, Bubunan, north coast of Bali.


Descriptive notes: 25 cm; 70–115 g (captive). Fairly large, white starling with forehead feathers bristly, feathers on crown and nape hackled and greatly elongated, forming erectile crest. Plumage is white, except for black terminal band on tail,...
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