Text by Loretta Shepherd, Monitor Conservation Research Society
New study highlights the emerging trend of trade in Grey-backed Myna sold online as ‘Baluran locals’- indicating ongoing and potential future poaching in Indonesia’s Baluran National Park (BNP).
Located in East Java, BNP is the most significant stronghold of the entire Black-winged Myna complex and is one of two remaining locations where the Grey-backed Myna is still known to occur in the wild. It is home to the largest known coherent population of this taxa, estimated at a minimum of 50 birds in 2017 and no more than a few dozen in 2020, though very recent yet unpublished research suggests that the population size may actually be larger, ranging between 140 and 220 individuals.
Between April 2020 and March 2021, the study’s authors recorded a minimum of 19 Grey-backed Mynas offered for sale on social media. Sixteen different sellers were identified, suggesting that most of the sales were conducted opportunistically.
Considering the dire conservation status of Baluran’s Grey-backed mynas, any trade in wild-caught individuals should be considered highly alarming and must be countered as swiftly as possible.
“It is critical that songbird poaching in Baluran National Park is addressed urgently,” said Simon Bruslund, the study’s lead author, drawing attention to online trade advertisements of Grey-backed Mynas purportedly sourced from BNP. “Indonesia must use the tools it already has to intervene against the ongoing illegal capture and trade in Grey-backed Mynas from BNP”.
As evidenced, the illegal commercial trapping fuelled by a deeply ingrained Javanese hobby continues to threaten Asian songbirds.
To further counter potential poaching activities, the authors encourage the establishment of a rapid reporting system through which observations or trapping, trading, and keeping of Grey-backed Mynas can be swiftly reported to the authorities, and the introduction of SMART patrols which has proven effective elsewhere.
This study is part of the Monitor Songbird Lab – a research cooperation involving the EAZA Silent Forest Group and the Monitor Conservation Research Society.