Begawan Foundation released a pair of Bali Starlings from I Wayan Murdana's house. (Picture: Begawan Foundation)
Begawan Foundation released a pair of Bali Starlings from I Wayan Murdana's house. (Picture: Begawan Foundation)

UBUD, Bali (BPN) – Begawan Foundation – a Bali-based NGO working on conservation and education – has been protecting the Bali Starlings and their habitat for over 20 years. On 5 April 2021, Begawan Foundation released a pair of Bali Starlings from I Wayan Murdana’s house, a local community compound in Melinggih Kelod village in Ubud, Bali for the first time. Begawan Foundation has been working with the local breeders’ association in Melinggih Kelod, the Madhusuara Breeders Association, for this community-based release. 

The critically endangered Bali Starling is the second rarest bird in the world. In 2017, Begawan Foundation realizes that the conservation program would not work without the support and involvement of the local community. The Foundation then commenced a community-based conservation program, working alongside the local breeders in Melinggih Kelod village. 

In order to create a ‘win-win’ situation between conservation and community development, the benefits to the community must be clear. The aim of this program is for offspring to be released within two years and in subsequent years.

With serious monitoring and local law enforcement, it is envisaged that these offspring will reproduce in the wild, creating a wild flock of Bali Starlings protected by the community, and a program of ecotourism in Melinggih Kelod village can then provide income for the community.

“The purpose of this collaboration is to breed the Bali Starlings and safely release them into the wild in Melinggih Kelod village to increase their population. Begawan Foundation and the local community in Melinggih Kelod can thus join hands in conservation work and make the necessary efforts to protect the Bali Starlings,” said I Wayan Junaskhara Susana, the Head of the Madhusuara Breeders Association.

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Free flying wild Bali Starlings.

Begawan Foundation’s conservation program involves the community in sustainable bird breeding, alleviating the need to take birds from the wild. Community-based conservation is often challenging and requires strong commitment and proper planning in order to be successful.

Begawan Foundation has initiated and committed itself to build a long-term partnership with Melinggih Kelod village to conserve the Bali Starling both in captivity and in the wild.

The collaboration with the local breeders began with a foster program, where the local breeders each received a pair of Bali Starlings from the Begawan Foundation. Prior to the foster parents receiving a pair of breeding Bali Starlings, staff conduct training for these committed breeders at the Foundation’s Breeding and Release Centre in Melinggih Kelod.

Enclosure placement has been undertaken with the Foundation’s supervision in order to meet all the requirements needed for a healthy breeding environment.  

Currently, there are five local breeders with five pairs of Bali Starlings. The breeders have successfully hatched 18 Bali Starlings since 2019, with just three chicks dying from natural causes. Together, the Foundation and local breeders have worked on the best way to release the Bali Starlings safely. Observation and monitoring of the first pair released today will be undertaken to ensure the Bali Starlings are safe in the wild. 

“The Bali Starling is our mascot here in Bali,” said drh. I Made Sugiarta, Begawan Foundation’s veterinarian, reminding the community of the importance of this conservation. “The steps for our conservation and release are observation and socialization. The local community needs to know this because this conservation work is not only for us. Hopefully someday when we say Bali Starlings, people will think of Melinggih Kelod, and there will be the possibility for eco-tourism that will benefit the local community,” he closed. 

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