Journal Article

Large-scale trade in a songbird that is extinct in the wild


Indonesia is at the epicenter of the Asian Songbird Crisis, i.e., the recognition that the cage bird trade has a devastating impact on numerous imperiled bird species in Asia. The Javan pied starling Gracupica jalla, only in the last five years recognized as distinct from the pied starlings of mainland Southeast Asia, has been declared extinct the wild in 2021. Up until the 1980s, it used to be one of the most common open countryside birds on the islands of Java and Bali, Indonesia. From the early 2000s onwards, the species is commercially bred to meet the demand from the domestic cagebird trade. We conducted 280 market surveys in 25 bird markets in Java and Bali between April 2014 and March 2020, with 15 markets being surveyed at least six times. We recorded 24,358 Javan pied starlings, making it one of the most commonly observed birds in the markets. We established that, conservatively, around 40% of the birds in the market were sold within one week and used this to estimate that at a minimum ~80,000 Javan pied starlings are sold in the bird markets on Java and Bali. The latter represents a monetary value of USD5.2 million. We showed that prices were low in the 1980s, when all birds were sourced from the wild. It became more varied and differentiated in the 2000s when a combination of now expensive wild-caught and cheaper captive-bred birds were offered for sale, and prices stabilized in the 2010s when most, if not all birds were commercially captive-bred. Javan pied starlings are not protected under Indonesian law, and there are no linked-up conservation efforts in place to re-establish a wild population on the islands, although small-scale releases do take place.

Attached files


Nijman, Vincent
Campera, Marco
Ardiansyah, Ahmad
Balestri, Michela
El Bizri, Hani R.
Budiadi, Budiadi
Dewi, Tungga
Hedger, Katherine
Hendrik, Rifqi
Imron, Muhammad Ali
Langgeng, Abdullah
Morcatty, Thais Q.
Weldon, Ariana V.
Nekaris, K.A.I.

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Social Sciences


Year of publication: 2021
Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-10-13

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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