a1 Biodiversity Research Group, School of Geography and Environment, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY, UK.
The Indonesian pastime of keeping wild birds as pets is threatening the long-term survival of many songbird species on the islands of Java and Bali. Here we present the results of a large-scale household survey of bird-keeping in the six largest cites of Java and Bali that investigates: (1) the scale and conservation significance of bird-keeping and (2) the relative merits of regulatory versus market-based approaches as means to reduce the enormous demand for wild-caught birds. We found bird-keeping is widespread across social groups, with a rising demand for certain species of conservation importance. Specifically, 35.7% of households surveyed keep a bird and 57.6% of households had kept a bird in the last 10 years. Overall, we project that 584,000 households keep almost 2 million songbirds, the category of most conservation concern. Just over half of songbirds kept are wild-caught. We identified an increase in popularity (since 1999) of three native species (long-tailed shrike Lanius schach, orange-headed thrush Zoothera citrina and white-rumped shama Copsychus malabaricus) attributable to their popularity in bird song contests. In the latter two species this has caused ‘rolling’ local extinctions across West Indonesia. Given the huge popularity and deep cultural significance of bird-keeping we argue that, in this case, lobbying for stricter regulation is undesirable, impractical and may alienate a potential future supporter base for bird conservation in Indonesia. We argue in favour of a portfolio of softer policy instruments that may include market-based and voluntary mechanisms and engage a wider range of people and organizations.
(Received December 20 2007)
(Reviewed March 14 2008)
(Accepted May 21 2008)