Good rare bird news from Indonesia


This video says about itself:

2 May 2013

The elusive Moluccan Woodcock, first documented by Alfred Russel Wallace 150 years ago, has since been recorded just 10 times. Eden, John and team take the first photographs of the worlds largest woodcock, and record several other taxa of bird that appear to be new to science.

From Oxford University in Britain:

Moluccan woodcock is ‘not so endangered’ after all

Dec 31, 2013

A team of researchers has captured the first known photographs of the elusive Moluccan Woodcock (Scolopax rochussenii) and, in a rare case of good conservation news, suggest that it may be less threatened than previously believed.

The Moluccan Woodcock, which is restricted to two remote Indonesian islands, is classed as ‘endangered’ under International Union for the Conservation of Nature criteria. Yet, researchers from Oxford University and Louisiana State University managed to record it on 51 occasions during a two-month stay on Obi Island in the Northern Moluccas of Indonesia. In their study published in the Asian journal, Forktail, they suggest that despite only 10 confirmed records of the bird before their expedition, they discovered the population is much healthier than previously thought. They calculate there could be as many as 9,500 Moluccan Woodcocks on Obi island, adding that they the species appears to be living mainly in the lowlands – a surprising turn of events given that up until now ornithologists had believed the birds preferred the mountainous area at the centre of the island.

Eden Cottee-Jones of the University of Oxford and John Mittermeier from Louisiana State University camped on the island between July to August 2012 with the aim of capturing the first photographs of the Moluccan Woodcock. They were presented with numerous challenges due to the island’s rugged terrain and humidity, which affected the camera equipment. The birds also rarely came out of the undergrowth, appearing only briefly to perform a territorial display flight over the forest canopy for a few minutes at sunrise or dusk when the light was poor.

Using a 400mm lens with a flashlight taped under the lens hood, the researchers finally managed to take series of photographs of the bird at sunset on the final day of their 57-day expedition. The Moluccan Woodcock was at a distance of about 20 metres overhead when the researchers managed to take photographs while standing ankle-deep in the river. They were alerted to the bird’s flight by its distinctive rattling call.

Researcher Eden Cottee-Jones said: ‘Even when a Moluccan Woodcock would fly within camera range, the darkness and humidity in the air led to multiple technical problems with our equipment, and that was just on the days when it wasn’t raining. The other challenge was that the bird spends most of its day hidden in the undergrowth so there were few opportunities to photograph it in the open.’

John Mittermeier added: ‘The Moluccan Woodcock only appears briefly at dawn and dusk to perform territorial display flights lasting around 21 minutes in the morning and 13 minutes at night. The size of their territories, along with the speed and height of their display flights, meant we only had two to three chances daily of taking a picture, and the best spot for a view of the bird was usually in the middle of a river!’

The Moluccan Woodcock was first collected by German naturalist Heinrich Bernstein, who obtained a single male specimen from Obi in 1862. Over the next 150 years, only seven additional individuals were recorded, six from Obi and a single individual from the neighbouring island, Bacan. After two birds were collected in 1982, the species disappeared for nearly 30 years. Ornithologists making three visits to Obi between 1989 and 2010 failed to record the bird. However, in 2010 the species was ‘rediscovered’ at two sites on Obi by a French ornithologist who recorded the bird’s call.

On this latest expedition, the researchers surveyed 20 scattered sites around Obi and conducted interviews with local people, using modelling to calculate the total population of Moluccan Woodcocks on the island. The display behaviour and population size of this enigmatic bird are discussed in the study, which concludes that this ‘lost species’ is less endangered than expected and should be reassessed as ‘vulnerable’.

The Moluccan Woodcock is a forest wader with a long black beak, a golden-brown plumage with black mottled markings and is recorded as living only on the remote islands of Obi and Bacan. A protected area has been proposed in the mountainous centre of Obi, but for the first time this research suggests that conservationists need to consider measures to protect the population in the lowlands. Although the interviews with local villagers reveal that the birds are not hunted as food, the study says logging and nickel mining present a major threat to the birds’ future habitat.

Explore further: Former ‘Rat Island’ in Alaska has whole new look.

More information: Read the study here.

Endangered Bali starlings to bird sanctuary


This video says about itself:

31 March 2011

The Bali Starling or Rothchilds Mynah, is critically endangered with only a few dozen birds left in the wild and in captivity.

From the Jakarta Globe in Indonesia:

Endangered Bali Starlings Given New Home on Island Bird Sanctuary

3:06 am December 27, 2013

A pair of endangered Bali Starlings taken from West Bali National Park are to be set free at a bird sanctuary on a small island east of Bali, an activist said on Friday.

The starlings, known locally as jalak Bali, will be released on Nusa Penida island on Dec 30, I Gede Nyoman Bayu Wirayudha said in a press release.

Bayu is the founder and CEO of the Friends of the National Parks Foundation (FNPF), a non-profit that works to protect wildlife in habitats. The organization manages the sanctuary on Nusa Penida island.

“Indonesia’s Minister of Forestry, Zulkifli Hasan, will release the birds in a special ceremony near our conservation center at 10 a.m. on Monday,” Bayu said. “These birds will bring a new blood line to the more than 100 Bali starlings already living in the wild within the island sanctuary.”

The FNPF has been providing technical support and advice to the park’s Bali starling conservation program for more than 10 years.

Bayu said that the two starlings were given in exchange for starlings from FNPF’s breeding collection on Nusa Penida.

The sanctuary, the only one of its kind in Indonesia, provides an unofficial haven for endangered birds.

FNPF claimed that the project had the backing of the islands’ 46 villages. The sanctuary also had the backing of the Bali Bureau of Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), which recently sponsored the installation of four bird’s nest boxes on the island, along with the donation seeds and polybags for FNPF’s nursery.

The Bali starling is one of world’s most endangered birds. Nusa Penida is home to an estimated 100 Bali starlings today, up from just 10 birds in 2006.

Earlier this month, conservation officials in Solo, Central Java, imposed new rules for the trade in the critically endangered species, in a bid to stamp out the illegal practice of passing off wild-caught birds as captive-bred ones.

Baby elephant video from Indonesia


This video from Indonesia says about itself:

Baby elephant learns to use her trunk

20 Dec 2013

This adorable baby elephant was born to a mother who is part of an elite team of critically endangered Sumatran elephants that help protect communities from conflict with wild elephants in Indonesia.

She’s nearly 4 months old, growing fast and starting to imitate her mother’s behaviour. Here it looks like she’s getting to grips with using her trunk!

Read more about the fantastic work of WWF-Indonesia’s elephant Flying Squad and the newest addition here.

Javan rhinoceros news from Indonesia


This video is called Rare Javan Rhinos Filmed.

By Arlina Arshad today:

Indonesia builds sanctuary to save world’s rarest rhino

On a leaf-covered dirt path overlooking lush paddy fields in western Indonesia, the world’s rarest rhino had left a trail of hoofprints in the soft mud and bite marks on foliage.

For people seeking a glimpse of the Javan rhino—revered in local folklore as Abah Gede, or the Great Father—such small signs are likely to be the closest they get.

There are thought to be only around 50 of the animals left in existence, all living in the wild in Ujung Kulon National Park, an area of stunning natural beauty on the western tip of Indonesia’s main island of Java.

But now conservationists are hoping that the country’s first ever Javan rhino sanctuary, which will open in the park in the coming months, can pull the animal back from the brink of extinction.

The shy creature, whose folds of loose skin give it the appearance of wearing armour plating, once numbered in the thousands and roamed across Southeast Asia.

But, like other rhino species across the world, poaching and human encroachment on its habitat has led to a dramatic population decline, with the International Union for Conservation of Nature saying the animal is “making its last stand”.

The new sanctuary will encompass 5,100 hectares (12,600 acres) of lush rainforest, freshwater streams and mudholes in the park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

It is not due to open until March but park officials say that from hoofprints and bite marks, they believe nine rhinos have already wandered into new areas set aside for them.

“It means our scheme to turn this sanctuary into a comfortable home for them is working,” the park’s habitat manager Rusdianto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told AFP.

The rhinos were already living mainly in one corner of the park.

But the new sanctuary has expanded the area suitable for them and relocated farmers who were living there to reduce the chances of animal-human conflict.

An electric fence is also being constructed—the final piece of work that needs to be completed—to mark the boundary and prevent the rhinos from straying out of the sanctuary and humans from coming in.

Park officials, who are government employees, have also been planting suitable food for the rhinos. During a recent visit by AFP, workers were seen clearing palm trees from the area and replacing them with shrubs and small trees.

“We hope this sanctuary will hasten breeding and lead to more births of this treasured rare animal,” park chief Moh Haryono told AFP.

“In a more enclosed space, the male and female rhino will have more opportunities to frolic and mate freely.”

Rhinos around the world are under threat

Yet setting up the sanctuary, which is government-run but fully funded by US-based charity the International Rhino Foundation, has been no easy task.

It was originally due to open in 2011 but was held up due to red tape, a common problem in the sprawling Indonesian archipelago, which has a huge and often inefficient bureaucracy.

Work also stalled for a year due to protests from residents demanding compensation for farmland they had to give up, as well as from local animal activists who felt the use of heavy machinery to build the fence threatened the environment.

However all obstacles now seem to have been overcome and, barring any last-minute hold-ups, the sanctuary should officially open soon.

Nevertheless it is just a small step in an uphill battle to save the Javan rhino. Officials in Ujung Kulon believe there were 51 of the rhinos in 2012, including eight calves, basing their estimate on images captured by hidden cameras.

They hope the true figure may be in the 70s and will have a new estimate once data for 2013 has been collated.

The case of the Javan rhinoceros highlights the plight of rhinos across the world, with other species also deemed to be under threat and some subspecies already believed to have died out.

Poaching in particular represents a severe threat, with rhino horns used in traditional Asian medicine fetching ever higher prices on the black market despite a lack of scientific evidence showing horn has any medicinal value.

In Indonesia, fewer than 100 of the critically endangered Sumatran rhinos remain; in 2011 the IUCN declared a rhino subspecies in western Africa extinct; and the group has said the Central African northern white rhino is “possibly extinct”.

Asia has stepped up efforts to save the region’s dwindling rhino populations, with representatives from several countries in October attending a conference on the issue on the western Indonesian island of Sumatra.

Countries represented, including Indonesia, Nepal and India, pledged to take steps to grow their rhino populations by three percent annually.

For the Javan rhino, its population already decimated, the threat is no longer poaching but food scarcity, illness and the risk of natural disasters in an archipelago where earthquakes and landslides are common, according to WWF Indonesia.

Despite the myriad threats, wildlife officials are hopeful the new sanctuary is a step in the right direction.

They have also been heartened by strong support from the local community.

Any effort to save the Great Father is applauded in an area where centuries-old beliefs persist and intertwine with the vast majority’s Muslim faith.

“We must do all we can to prevent the Javan rhino from becoming extinct,” Suhaya, a 67-year-old farmer who goes by one name, told AFP.

“Locals here believe that Abah Gede must not vanish from the face of the Earth, or disaster will befall us.”

Explore further: Asian rhino conference hailed as major step forward.

See also here.

Komodo dragon discovery on Flores, Indonesia


This video is called Massive Lizards: Documentary on Giant Komodo Dragons.

From BirdLife:

Komodo Dragons found in unprotected Indonesian IBA

By Martin Fowlie, Wed, 18/12/2013 – 11:09

A team including staff from BirdLife Partner Burung Indonesia has confirmed the presence of the Komodo Dragon, the world’s largest lizard, in the west of Flores Island, Indonesia. The discovery adds further urgency to the BirdLife Partnership’s campaign to gain formal protection for the Mbeliling Important Bird and Biodiversity Area (IBA), which includes the forests where the giant lizards were found.

Komodo Dragon Varanus komodoensis is classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Camera traps recorded at least 12 individuals in the Mbeliling forest in the extreme west of Flores, opposite the small islands of Komodo and Rinca, which are the known strongholds of the Komodo Dragon. The Komodo National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, includes these islands and a section of the Flores coast, but the Mbeliling IBA lies outside its boundaries.

As recently as 2004, Komodo Dragons were found at sites on the north and south coasts of Flores, but the survey work by Burung Indonesia and others provides the first confirmation that they also survive in the west.

“We hope these discoveries will be widely publicised and help our efforts to protect this irreplaceable biodiversity-rich forest area”, said Burung Indonesia’s communications officer, Irfan Saputra.

BirdLife has identified Mbeliling as an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area because of its populations of threatened restricted range species, including the Critically Endangered Yellow-crested Cockatoo Cacatua sulphurea, and Flores Hanging-parrot Loriculus flosculus, Flores Monarch Monarcha sacerdotum and Flores Crow Corvus florensis, which are all considered Endangered.

Without formal protection, the forest of Mbeliling IBA is being cleared to create agricultural land, which soon becomes exhausted, leading to further forest clearance. BirdLife has been working with the people of 27 villages around the IBA to make agricultural practices more sustainable, and to restore and enhance soil nutrients using organic farming methods, thereby reducing the pressure on the forests.

Danida, the Danish International Development Assistance funded this work.