Opportunistic survey of the bird market in Bali, Indonesia

posted in: Illegal-Irresponsible | 8

“On February 2010, an opportunistic survey of bird markets in Bali, Indonesia was conducted. Localities visited include Denpasar, Kuta, Seminyak and Ubud. Denpasar is the capital of Bali island and is basically an old market town dotted with many temples, street shops and beautiful houses.

“It also boasts a thriving bird market that has become a centre for wildlife trading on the island. Satria bird market serves as a one stop mega-mall for pets, pet supplies as well as game meat. The image on the left shows a row of shops selling pets and pet supplies. Bird keeping is a deeply entrenched tradition in the Indonesian culture. It was observed that shops in the bird market do not discriminate what they buy and sell. Species noted in trade at the market can be found in the Annex 1. Species sold were almost identical in most shops.

“Many bird species in Indonesia are protected. Most are confined to the various islands scattered along the archipelago. Yet they are still sighted in major bird markets throughout Indonesia. Species like the crested jay (above left), green magpie, Asian fairy bluebird, greater leafbird, straw-headed bulbul (above right), pin-tailed parrotfinch and tawny-breasted parrotfinch (above middle) are few of the non-Bali resident species traded at Satria bird market in Denpasar, Bali. When asked, the shop owners claimed the birds either arrived from Java or Sumatra, two of Indonesia’s main islands.

Some shops are rather well established within the market. The image above (left) shows a typical bird shop at the market with cages and perches for the birds. This shop has more than 15 species of birds offered for sale. Most notable in the picture above are the moustache parakeet, Asian pied starling, Java sparrow and peach-faced lovebird. The image above (right) shows a dealer offering a collared scops owl for sale. When the movie Harry Potter was first released in Indonesia, it was reported that demand for owl species had gone up (Chris Shepherd, pers.comm.to Haniman Boniran, 2004) The owls here are kept in paper bags with holes punctured through for ventilation. The reasons they are kept that way are to keep the nocturnal species calm and subsequently reduce the chances of stress related deaths. Furthermore, the dealer does not have a physical store. These are itinerant dealers who move around from one spot to another, peddling their goods. This particular dealer sells not only owls but also other species including long-tailed shrikes.

“Mammalian species like bats, civets and macaques tend to be sold as food. Adult flying foxes (above right-bottom = crimson flying-fox) and macaques are poor candidates for tame, loving pets. According to a TRAFFIC report in 2005, some of these animals are sold for medicinal purposes. They are either sold alive or, upon request, can be slaughtered on the spot (Nijman, 2005). The shop owner claimed that the macaques came from Sumatra. This shop essentially sells monkeys and flying foxes with a few water fowl species as well as helmeted guinea fowls and turkeys.

“Besides long-tailed macaques (above left; juveniles above right-top), tree shrews (below left), squirrels, civets (below right) as well as green iguanas are common non-avian species sold at Satria bird market. The flying fox, long-tailed macaque and the green iguana, a South American species, are listed on the appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, CITES. Not only are they protected internationally from trade exploitation, there are also domestic legislations prohibiting the poaching and trading of these species within Indonesia.

“In 1999 when India banned the commercial export of rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) for use in medical research, Indonesia became one of the largest exporters of long-tailed macaques to medical facilities around the world. Mauritius, Solomon Islands and the Philippines followed suit.

“These two signage table out the law protecting local flora and fauna in Indonesia (above). They are located at the central square of the bird market visible to vendors. Unfortunately, wildlife protection is a still a challenge for many producer countries. Lack of man power, economic pressures and politicians’ will, rather than political will, are just some of the reasons illegal wildlife trading is rampant. Arguably, it provides income for the locals but when opportunistic trapping becomes commercialized, the authorities will need to contain it. Unmanaged tapping of resources of any kind for that matter, will result in premature depletion which will subsequently affect both species. Sustainable harvesting is very much recommended if wildlife is to be utilized as an economic commodity. However, given the vastness and complexities of the many domestic issues plaguing producer countries such as Indonesia, it seems inevitable that wildlife trade is the least of priorities on the country’s agenda. Despite this Indonesia has to be commended for her efforts in trying to curb further expansion of illegal wildlife trade. A decade ago, Bali mynahs, Siamangs, gibbons, orang-utans and various species of raptors were common sights in these bird markets across Bali. Today the situation is slightly better.”

Above: left, barbets (Megalaima spp. fledglings); middle,short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus brachyotis); right, pin-tailed parrotfinch (Erythrura prasina)

Above: left, long-tailed shrike (Lanius schach); middle, black-naped fruit-dove (Ptilinopus melanospila); right, white-bellied hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris).

Annex 1.
1. Collared Scops owl (Otus bakkamoena lempiji)
2. Malayan flying fox (Pteropus vampyrus)
3. Pin-tailed parrotfinch (Erythrura prasina)
4. Tawny-breasted parrotfinch (Erythrura hyperytha)
5. Tree shrews (Tupaia glis)
6. Long-tailed macaque (Macaca fascicularis)
7. Civet (Viverrid sp.)
8. Long-tailed shrike (Lanius schach)
9. Java sparrow ( Padda oryzivora)
10. Barbets (Megalaima spp.)
11. Asian pied starling (Sturnus contra) uncommon resident in Java and Bali according to Strange, 2001)
12. Green iguana ( Iguana iguana)
13. Short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus brachyotis)
14. Black-naped fruit-dove (Ptilinopus melanospila)
15. Asian fairy bluebird (Irina puella)
16. Black-naped oriole (Oriolus chinensis)
17. Greater leafbird (Chloropsis sonnerati)
18. Moustached parakeet (Psittacula alexandri)
19. Hill mynah (Gracula religiosa)
20. Straw-headed Bulbul (Pycononotus zeylanicus)
21. Crested Jay (Platylophus galericulatus)
22. Asian glossy starling (Aplonis panayensis)
23. Oriental white-eye (Zosterops palpebrosus)
24. Jungle fowl (Gallus spp.)
25. Water fowl (Anas spp. & Anser spp.)
26. Peach-faced lovebird (Agapornis rosiecollis)
27. Black-capped lory (Lorius lory)
28. Rainbow lory (Trichoglossus haematodus)
29. Orange-headed thrush (Zoothera citrina)
30. Munias ( Lonchura spp.)
31. Bulbuls ( Pycnonotus spp.)
32. Spotted-necked dove (Streptopelia chinensis)
33. Peaceful dove (Geopelia striata)
34. Common mynah (Acridotheres tristis)
35. Javan mynah (Acridotheres javanicus)
36. White bellied hedgehog (Atelerix albiventris)
37. Canary (Serinus canaria)

Haniman Boniran
9th March 2010

Images by Haniman Boniran.

. MacKinnon, J. (1988). Field Guide to the Birds of Java and Bali. Gadjah Mada University Press, Indonesia.
2. Nijman, Vincent (2005). In Full Swing: An Assessment of trade in Orang-utans and Gibbons on Java and Bali, Indonesia TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.
3. Nowak, Ronald.M. (1991). Walker’s Mammal of the World – 5th Eds Vol. 1 The John Hopkins University Press, London.
4. Strange, M. (2001). A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Indonesia Periplus Editions (HK) Ltd., Hong Kong.

8 Responses

  1. KF

    There a big pasar burung (bird market) in Jogjakarta too. It is a cruel, crowded & smelly place.

  2. Haniman Boniran

    KF: Jogjakarta is one of many cities in Indonesia with bird markets. Infact the term “bird market” is a misnomer for you can find all sorts of animals on sale there, not just birds.

    Bonyou: I had the pleasure of meeting Bryan Christy while he was in Singapore promoting his book The Lizard King. Singapore is indeed a major player in international wildlife trade, be it legal or illegal. Close to half a million of reptile skins are traded with Singapore internationally. One of the top 5 tanneries in the world is located right here and is listed on the SGX main board.

    But we must not be quick to equate high volumes in trade to total disregard of international wildlife trade regulations. Majority of the transactions are actually legal. The challenge, is when illegal trade has been skillfully masked as legal and the authorities fail to acknowledge it. The regulators of wildlife trade in Singapore see themselves more as trade facilitators than conservationists. Unfortunately, there’s alot of lip service if your economiy relies on international trade, be it wildlife or popiah skins.

  3. I and the Bird (IATB) #121

    […] C Wee from Bird Ecology Study Group (BESG) in Singapore, contributes an important piece about bird and other wildlife trade in a market in Bali, Indonesia. Authored by Haniman Boniran, the report is complete with pictures, […]

  4. Larry Jordan

    There is almost nothing that makes me sadder these days than seeing a caged wild bird. Just another sad commentary on humans taking whatever we want, to the detriment of the planet and its other inhabitants.

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