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Efforts underway to prevent Bali Starling from extinction

DENPASAR ( Efforts are underway to save the Bali Starling, known locally as Jalak Bali, one of the world's most endangered birds now seriously threatened with extinction. The bird is protected by Indonesian law, and exists only in the Bali Barat National Park. Here the birds are protected by armed employees.

This type of starling is only found on the island of Bali, and early in 1999 only 32 survived in the wild. This small number has been boosted by the release of captive-bred birds, a source said. In 1990, there were only 13 remaining in the wild.

The white plumage, the black wings and the blue area around the eyes have made the birds highly attractive to the caged-bird traders. The price for one bird can reach tens of millions of rupiah. Changes in the environment have also decimated the population.

The Bali Starling Project is an attempt to rebuild the population by re-introducing captive birds to the wild. At the Bali Starling Birds Pre-Release Center, formerly caged birds are introduced to the food sources of the natural environment and encouraged to nest in native trees before being released around Bali Barat National Park.

"It's a difficult process, and many attempts have been sadly unsuccessful: birds are often killed by predatory falcons and thieves. The starlings are also constantly disadvantaged by a reduced habitat caused by development," said Ketut Ardika, an employee who is in charge of protecting the birds from the thieves.

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