“Searching for the Birds” Project Updates

Author: Prof. Stuart Marsden

What project-related developments, either directly or indirectly, took place the past months?

Bird observation in the forest © Achmad Ridha Junaid – Burung Indonesia

Fieldwork for the project is underway at one of the two project study areas, with the remaining areas to be surveyed towards the end of 2019 and in 2020. Surveys were implemented at two sites on Patuha in February and March 2019. Fauna were surveyed using 20 camera traps, 14 audio recorders and walking transects. Camera traps and audio recorders were deployed for 4 days at each site, recording continuously for 24 hours. Equipment was placed approximately every 200 m along existing trails (audio recorders were placed 2-5 m off the trail, whereas camera traps were focused on trails, or clearings). Walking surveys were conducted along 16 km of trails over 4 days per site, surveying for birds and primates. At each audio recorder, and for key bird species, a vegetation survey was also carried out. Vegetation surveys aim to assess the structure (and some key species) of the habitat, with measures also relating to habitat condition (e.g. presence of tree stumps). Evidence of bird trapping was also collected during habitat surveys and on an ad hoc basis across the study site. Amphibians were surveyed along nocturnal transects following streams. A prior study also estimated forest loss between 1990 and 2015 across the study area.

Can you please give us a short status update on objectives and goals you specified in your project proposal?

Survey locations to date on Patuha

Forest cover across the Patuha study area was estimated at 3,400 ha, with over 2,200 ha of forest remaining over 1,000 m in altitude. Forest loss between 1990 and 2015 has averaged around 3%, with slightly more forest lost at higher altitudinal bands. A total of 114 bird species and  mammal species have been recorded on Patuha to date, including 4 globally threatened birds (Javan Hawk-Eagle, Javan Trogon, Javan Cochoa, Javan Scops-owl), 11 Near Threatened, and 3 globally threatened mammals (Grizzled Leaf Monkey, Ebony Langur and Leopard).

Little Pied Flycatcher © Achmad Ridha Junaid – Burung Indonesia

On the Indonesian protection list, 19 birds, and 7 mammals were recorded. The 5 most common birds on Patuha, as determined by the encounter rates on the walking transects, were Javan Tesia, Pied Shrike-vireo, Sunda Warbler, Pygmy Cupwing and Little Pied Flycatcher, with values of 2.16, 1.69, 1.69, 1.45, 1.39 groups/hour, respectively. In contrast, the highest encounter rate of a globally threatened species was 0.22 groups/hour for Javan Cochoa.

Additionally, volunteer students from nearby universities, taking part in surveys, have had excellent opportunities to learn about survey methods (both traditional transects and high tech automated recording equipment) from the experienced project team, including one of the leading experts on Javan ornithology, and author of the definitive bird guide for the region, Bas van Balen.

What activities are planned/ scheduled for the next three months? 

Further surveys are planned in 2020 after the rainy season has finished. Also, further data analysis will take place, including a more detailed analysis on bird and mammal occupancy from the automated recorders.

“Bali Myna Fieldwork” Project Updates

Author: Tom Squires and Prof. Stuart Marsden

What project-related developments, either directly or indirectly, took place the past months?

Ecological fieldwork for Bali myna has been ongoing at Bali Barat National Park (BBNP) over the last year in collaboration with the national park staff. Five Indonesian graduates have been helping collect data for the project and many of the national park staff team have contributed by reporting Bali myna sightings and other interesting information, including nesting locations and historic records. Through various sources and our fieldwork, we have upwards of 500 Bali myna sightings; most are recent, but some members of the local community provided records dating back decades.

© Panji Gusti Akbar

Colour rings have been attached to some released birds to understand their post-release survival, movement, and establishment as part of the breeding population. To date, 69 Bali myna have been colour ringed, with all but 14 of these released into the wild. We are now in the process of recording these birds regularly. One bird has already been recorded moving between three different security posts in the park and has paired up with a non-ringed bird. These data are already providing us with information about connectivity for Bali myna within the national park.

Two Indonesian graduates came to BBNP in July 2019 and have since completed a vegetation survey of the National Park and its surrounding area. This information is now being used to assess habitat suitability for Bali myna across the area and will be an invaluable tool for the national park to use for their general conservation management responsibilities.

Finally, research examining breeding productivity has just begun and will continue throughout the wet season, which is when Bali myna breed. This work is being carried out by two Indonesian graduate biologists who recently joined the project.

Can you please give us a short status update on objectives and goals you specified in your project proposal?

  1. Devise robust pre-release, release, and post-release protocols with input and agreement from multiple stakeholders

Two members of the International Advisory Board for Bali myna conservation visited the national park in 2019 to discuss pre-release and release protocols with national park staff. A further pre-release and release protocol workshop is likely to take place in 2020, with the involvement of multiple stakeholders expected. The post-release protocol is a work in progress, and it is expected that recommendations towards this will come out of Tom Squires’ PhD work.

  1. Introduce a robust system of monitoring and studying released Bali Mynas in BBNP using standard radio-telemetry tracking to determine the key ecological needs of the species

Post-release monitoring is currently being carried out using colour rings to study survival, movement and breeding for a sample of the released population. It is hoped that this work can be expanded in the near future, to include more individuals.

  1. Support Indonesian students/ecologists to conduct studies of Bali Myna.

To date, capacity building has been very successful as part of the project at Bali Barat. Five Indonesian students and graduates have made valuable contributions: BSc student Panji Gusti Akbar assisted on all aspects of the project for six months, gaining valuable ornithology skills; two recent BSc graduates, Aldina Rahmadhani and Muhammad Arif Romadlon, completed the park-wide vegetation survey; and Mas Untung Sarmawi and Andri Nugroho have recently started a study on Bali myna breeding productivity in the national park.


Artificial nestboxes in BBNP © Tom Squires

What activities are planned / scheduled for the next three months?

A study to examine the breeding productivity of the wild population of Bali myna is the focus of fieldwork in BBNP for the next six months. Two Indonesian researchers, Mas Untung Sarmawi and Andri Nugroho have joined the project and are leading this piece of research, in collaboration with MMU and Udayana University, Bali. They will also be monitoring the colour-ringed birds in the national park and recording a new sightings of Bali myna.

With respect to the data already collected from BBNP, data analysis will be carried out over the next three months and the first results are expected to be produced in this time. A habitat classification for the area covered by the vegetation survey will be finalised and shared with all stakeholders involved in Bali myna conservation. Distribution and population estimates will be analysed and included in preliminary results. A more detailed analysis using all data is planned to be undertaken following the completion of the breeding productivity study.

Silent Forest, Silent Spring

Author: Mark Liziczai (KLG Goodeid Projekt, Hungary)


Our institution is a secondary grammar school, which has received the award of ‘Eco-school’.

Whatever the class, we are teaching our students to pay attention to their environment, nature and endangered species.

We decided to talk about the Silent Forest campaign, even if it is almost closed, because it’s never too late to draw the student’s attention on the crisis of South-Asia and the songbirds.

In the past few weeks, we organised programs that we called the Silent Spring Campaign.

We placed posters about the flagship species of the campaign, in the school.

We gave lectures and presentations about the threatening factors of South-Asian rainforests and their animals, and about endangered songbirds in our own school and in nearby neighbor primary schools.

Children had to identify birds, decide which ones were songbirds.

There were guessing games with boxes, containing objects in connection with Southeast-Asia or songbirds and children had to guess what it was only by touching it.

Finally, they had the possibility to meet living Asian animals – like exotic lizards, stick insects, etc.

Each station and children group was named after a flagship species of the Campaign.

It was a lot of fun so we plan on organizing activities for pre-school and primary school students on the occasion of the ‘Researchers Night’ too.

New contestant for the Binocular collection!

Have you been following the Silent Forest “binocular contest”?

For more than a year now, Liberec Zoo has been collecting old, but still functional, binoculars to distribute to eco-centers across Indonesia via the NGO Green-books.org (find all information about this in this previous post).

Somehow, this activity escalated into a friendly contest between Copenhagen Zoo (Denmark) and Parc de Branféré (France). Check out the post about it on our Facebook page if you missed it.

Well… We have just been informed of an unexpected turnaround!

Not only do we have a new contestant in the race, Aquazoo Löbbecke Museum (Germany), but they have moved into the lead with 114 binoculars collected!

They addressed a special message to Copenhagen zoo:

Dear neighbours in Copenhagen,

Düsseldorf inhabitants have been extremely generous and have donated 114 old binoculars for the Silent Forest campaign. We have heard that you were the big champions of binoculars… Did you give everything you had, or do you accept our challenge to collect even more binoculars for Silent Forest and bird conservation? Which city is the most generous in Europe – Düsseldorf or Copenhagen?

What an unbearable suspense! Will Copenhagen accept the challenge? Will Branféré dare to fight back too?


Roev Ruchey is not Silent

Author: Chipura Svetlana (Park of flora and fauna “Roev Ruchey”, Russia)

Park of flora and fauna “Roev Ruchey” continues to actively participate in the EAZA Silent forest campaign by addressing global and local problems in the field of biodiversity conservation.

Like our friends and colleagues from other zoos of Russia and the world, we conduct popular science events, lectures, thematic classes, field practices, children’s workshops and creative competitions aimed at promoting respect for nature and animals. Each event attracts at least 500 participants, which is quite high for our city and region!

A few months ago, the Day of Birds was organized and dedicated to raising awareness of bird diversity and protection. Our visitors discovered the feathered inhabitants of the zoo and learned to identify species by feathers and tracks. They also learned about the factors threatening the populations of the different species and about the IUCN Red List categories.

Young naturalists were also engaged in research activities, studying the behaviour and breeding conditions of exotic animals. At conferences, both in and outside the Park, the schoolchildren defended their projects and abstracts on the subject of nature conservation and optimization of the use of natural resources.


At the thematic classes of the Grandfather Roy’s Academy, students were introduced to the wildlife not only in their native land, but also in tropical areas. Under the guidance of experienced zoologists, they studied the social structure, reproduction and behaviour of birds, their taxonomic distribution and range in nature.

Finally, field trips were organised to observe birds in their natural environment and learn to identify the vocalizations.

In all these activities, the students showed a great interest and willingness to preserve nature, not just admire and enjoy it.

As one of their key priorities, the park “Roev Ruchey” will continue to strive to educate the population about wildlife conservation.

Twinkle, twinkle little… bird!

Author: Heike Meisch (Zoopark Erfurt, Germany)

During Zoopark Erfurt’s festival on 5 May, kids could get a glittering temporary tattoo at the Silent Forest campaign tent. They could choose among lots of different birds – and other animals to add the mammal or butterfly lovers as well.

Kids were queuing to get one of these very fashionable tattoos, made of glue and glittering powders applied on the skin.

A big thank you to the tattoo parlor MED. NEEDLE Piercingpraxis who donated the material needed.

The kids could get the tattoo for free or could give donations to support the Silent Forest campaign. The zoo club had constructed bird “piggy banks” and kids and parents alike were busily feeding those birds.

The shiny bird tattoos were so great, there was always a long waiting queue!  Unfortunately, as it takes time to apply the glue and wait until it is semi-dry, not all kids could get their tattoo on time. So, during the next festival day we will need 3-4 full time “Tattoo makers” to be able to satisfy all the kids.

Interested in doing the same? Great: just make sure that your tent is in a place without wind! Otherwise the whole space turns into a glittering, brilliant Silent Forest world!

Other activities were also organised to promote the campaign. A beautiful and educative day in Erfurt!


Zoopark Erfurt launched its Silent Forest Exhibit

Author: Heike Maisch (Zoopark Erfurt, Germany) 

A few weeks ago, the opening speech about the Asian Songbird Crisis and the EAZA Campaign was given by curator Heike Maisch at ZooPark Erfurt for the launch of their new exhibition and already 252,50 Euro were collected for the Campaign! A great start!

The special exhibit located in the old elephant and rhino house opened its doors on the 1st March.

Two artificial forest areas have been designed and painted by Roy Bäthe (the name rings a bell? You might have seen some of his bird paintings here) and Heike Maisch for the exhibit.

They are now empty of birds. Kids and groups will create their own bird pictures during several special Silent Forest event days. Together with the young artists we will bring those birds into the empty exhibit forests. This is meant as a symbol of the aim of the campaign: to bring the birds back into the wild.

Hopefully, at the end of the campaign, both forests will be full of birds!

Turn the crank and listen carefully

Another great creation from a Silent Forest Campaign participant to raise awareness of the Asian Songbird crisis!

Parc de Branféré (France) built this amazing sound box. Visitors can turn the crank to listen to the beautiful vocalization of  the White-rumped shama.

Press play, close your eyes and imagine you are standing in the middle of an Indonesian forest…

Well done!

We had it under our skin, Silent Forest is now ON it!

A bleeding knee, running tears, a child in need… everybody at the zoo knows a child’s cries need immediate attention, just like songbirds!

So many kilometers of adhesive plaster are glued to wounds in zoos and aquariums every season, both on kids and on keepers…

Thus, Zoopark Erfurt (Germany) had this great idea: customise the ugly brown or white plasters with beautiful colorful birds! They collaborated with Liberec zoo (Czech Republic) to design a beautiful set of 10 plasters, fully registered as medical products, showing flagship species of the Silent Forest campaign.
AGB Medical company offered to print the plasters and donate 30 cents per plaster sold to the campaign.

Well done! A example among many others of the EAZA spirit:
joining ideas and forces to work together for wildlife!

So, all of you: swap your boring band-aids and plaster the way to a great campaign! A set contains ten plasters and only costs €1.65 per set if you order 100 sets (minimum order), €1.42 per set for 500 sets or €1.12 per set for 1000 sets.

You can order directly via email to Stefan Kawohl or using the Silent Forest updated merchandise catalogue. The next batch of merchandise will be sent out soon. Place your orders before the 8 February 2019 to receive your Silent Forest products at the soonest!

Excessive consumption of chocolate can help save Songbirds!

As we are in the second and final year of our Silent Forest Campaign, Wilhelma Zoologische Garten (Germany) sent us some updates about the awesome activities they have done in 2018 and will carry out in 2019 regarding Songbirds.

A few weeks ago, the zoo received their special edition of “Wilhelma Conservation Chocolate” advertising five conservation projects they support, including the Bali Myna Fieldwork project from our Silent Forest Campaign. The chocolate is fair trade and palm oil free and is sold at the zoo restaurant and souvenir shop. The profits will go to the projects depicted on the packaging, which are expected to yield 2000€ each. Look at the beautiful Bali myna!

Beautiful and tasty! This is brilliant! Who wouldn’t like to eat chocolate to help save birds??

We were also thrilled to read that visitors enjoyed making bird feeders, bird baths, participating to a drawing contest, to a magic birds workshop and supporting our campaign through a fundraising lottery.

In addition, birding tours and nesting boxes crafting workshops – activities that were already well attended in 2018 – will be organized again this year, as well as a ten-day event with songbird-related activities for the children of the members of the association Wilhelma Freunde.

Find the complete schedule of the Songbird events and activities here.

A successful Silent Forest campaign day in Copenhagen Zoo

Copenhagen Zoo held its first Silent Forest campaign day on 24 November and it was a success!

On that day, the Tropical House was not only the home of our bird species but also welcomed art, educative activities and a lot of FUN!

Our nature interpreters and the famous Carl Christian Tofte, artist and bird-book illustrator, painted and talked about birds.


Kids could color or paint their own songbirds and “release” them to the wild on the rainforest wall. In the meantime, in the free-flight and bird enclosures, our zookeepers presented our bird species while feeding them and talking about enrichment activities. The threats and the situation in Asia were of course mentioned and great discussions took place in front of the exhibits.


A perfect way to highlight the Silent Forest campaign and show visitors how they can help fight this crisis by donating their old binoculars (more information on the binocular collection here), some money or buying a cuddly Songbird toy for Christmas!

A great day to be repeated!

“Silent Forest” invited to the Day of Animals

Author: Svetlana Kovalchuck (Tula Exotarium, Russia)

On the 6th of October 2018, while the International “Day of Animals” was celebrated at Tula Exotarium, our young visitors and their parents learned about the problem of songbirds in South-East Asia and about the EAZA Silent Forest Campaign.

They could listen to the sound records of daytime tropical forest, as well as to the beautiful vocalizations of songbirds, and chose their favorite ones. The children examined the colorful feathers of birds and learned about extinct species – victims of their wonderful plumage. They also discovered how these melodious singers are sadly caught and sold in Asian markets.

Finally, the kids’ imagination was set free to color paper songbirds and restock a tropical forest wall!

If only Asian forests could be repopulated as easily with real songbirds…

If you want to make a difference in conservation – make it personal!

Author: Eddie Bach (Copenhagen Zoo, Denmark)

I must admit I spend quite some time on social media – probably as much as the average person. I do try to keep it on a “professional” level, keeping myself updated on birds and conservation efforts rather than on what some old school friend had for dinner (no offence).

Working mostly with birds during my 18 years as an animal keeper and nature interpreter in Copenhagen Zoo, I was thrilled when EAZA took the challenge of starting the Silent Forest Campaign. I was even happier that I got to develop and organise the initiatives and activities in the Zoo.

One of the great initiatives of the Silent Forest Campaign team comes from Liberec Zoo. They decided to collect binoculars and send them to Indonesia through Green-books.org which organises bird-watching trips with local families. A really cool idea giving European visitors a thing to act on, instead of the “usual” money donation. Many people have old binoculars at home that they never use. This initiative makes a remote issue -the Asian songbird crisis – more relevant to Europeans and gives them a chance to help!

Unfortunately, the lack of space on the Zoo’s social media – between the zoo’s news and commercial activities, we often wish we could publish more about conservation campaigns and educational material – makes it hard to get the message out as much as I would like.

So I decided to make it personal and use my own Facebook account to spread the message. It became a personal quest to make it relevant for friends and family to join in and share!

I started with “Birds are great! That’s my opinion anyway. That’s why I’m using some time on the Silent Forest Campaign”, explained what the campaign was about, how to donate binoculars and encourage them to share my posts.

I ended the post with my personal thoughts to keep it relevant, saying “even if you think there are bigger problems in the world, a wise colleague of mine says: Nobody can help everywhere, but anyone can do something to help” (I am not sure whether it’s her own saying but I like it very much).

The Facebook post got a very good response. It was shared 78 times, received many positive comments, binoculars were donated and people offered their help to transport them from A to B. Colleagues from Aalborg Zoo made their own collection supporting “mine” with 8 binoculars. The local TV station called to make an interview for their website about the collection. We invited people to drop off their binoculars at the Zoo Entrance, advertising at the same time Copenhagen zoo! Soon 20 binoculars were piling up on the desk, as well as 3 spotting telescopes!

Our great campaign coordinator offered to cover the costs of the binoculars transport to Liberec Zoo. We have just sent a third lot rising the total to 55 collected binoculars!

I believe that making the Facebook post personal, giving it my own words and thoughts, made it relevant enough for people on my FB friend-list to share it. They gave it their own comments such as “help my friend”, “help my colleague” or “help this bird freak”, making it relevant for their FB friend-list too.

I think my message is: if you want to make a difference – make it personal. Also on social media.

The engagement reached by the post of course decreased since its publication but every now and then, some old binoculars appear on my desk. The need for them is still there, so if you got one, let someone know!

If you want to start the initiative in your institution too, find all the info here.

An astronomical bird clock in Liberec Zoo!

Authors: Matyáš Adam & Barbara Tesařová (Zoo Liberec, Czech Republic)

We are happy to see new ideas come to life to raise awareness of the Asian songbird crisis.

Liberec zoo, the oldest zoological garden in the Czech Republic celebrating its 100th birthday next year and the home of the Silent Forest campaign office, has just unveiled a unique Bird Astronomical Clock!

It introduces the endangered Asian songbirds, which have become a target of wildlife trade, to zoo visitors.

Similarly to the Walk of the Apostles on the famous Prague Astronomical Clock, every hour the six campaign songbird species appear in the window and visitors can listen to their songs.

The beautiful bird models are made of wood and steel and measure one meter! Built in cooperation with the Technical university of Liberec and a Czech sculptor, the clock draws attention to the problem of extinction of the quite unknown songbird species.

The endangered bird clock – whose idea was suggested 10 years ago – has finally become reality, and it is gorgeous!

Don’t forget to go see it next time you are in Liberec Zoo!

First Javan green magpie chick in Prigen has fledged successfully

Author: Simon Bruslund (Heidelberg Zoo, Germany)

Some encouraging news from one of the pre-selected projects for the Silent Forest Campaign.

In the Songbird breeding facility Prigen Conservation Breeding Ark (PCBA), the very first Javan green magpie has hatched only a few weeks ago. It was reared by its parents in the custom made breeding center with the highest level of privacy. Now it has fledged successfully, we have received the first images.

The young Magpie is officially part of the newly approved Javan green magpie EAZA Ex-situ Programme (EEP) and PBCA is a registered non-EAZA partner.

The breeding center, located on the grounds of the Taman Safari zoo in Prigen (Eastern Java), is run by the KASI Foundation. Its ongoing development and construction is co-financed by a number of EAZA institutions through the Silent Forest Campaign.

Follow all the news from the Prigen Conservation Breeding Ark on the Project website.

Deep dive into Indonesian forests by Yudi (Part 3)

A couple of weeks ago, we introduced Yudi, a 40-year old Indonesia-native conservationist working on the Banteng program in Baluran National Park for Copenhagen Zoo.
In the first post, he spoke about his childhood and the status of Indonesian birds 40 years ago.
In the 2nd part, he told us about his hobby, birdwatching, and the way it changed his relation to birds and nature.
Today discover how he helps wildlife conservation.

Due to my frequent birdwatching activity, I have noticed that some of the common species we could see everywhere in the past 10 years, suddenly disappeared as a result of bird market demand. The Oriental white-eye ,for instance, have suddenly reached a high price because bird lovers started to make a competition with this species. Before they did it only with high-end bird species such as Greater leafbird or Oriental magpie-robin.

Songbirds are a big business in Indonesia, probably in the world too. Because having songbirds as pets is part of the Asian culture, it has triggered a decrease of many bird species populations leading to a terrible situation. If we do not do any strategic actions in the short time, we will probably lose many birds species.

©Simon Bruslund

It is a fact: many species of songbirds are suddenly gone or difficult to see in the wild before we had time to conduct proper studies on them. For some species, such as Bali myna, the population in cages is even bigger than the wild population. We don’t even know if there are really wild populations in the wild, since many of them come from reintroductions.

Personally, I do not have an answer when people ask me how we could save wild song birds from extinction. But, as a father, I can teach my daughter to love birds in their natural habitat and introduce her to how rich the Indonesian biodiversity is. We have done so many birdwatching activities during weekdays. She even tells sometimes our member of family, who still have songbird in cages, to release them! My father stopped having birds as pets a long time ago. Thousands of birdwatchers in Indonesia do similar things and we share our experiences together through social media like Facebook.

Unfortunately, the number of birdwatchers in Indonesia is not comparable to the millions of people that still want to have bird as a pet. We cannot tell local communities to stop poaching birds, while they do not have many alternatives to fulfill their family needs. We also cannot say to “bird lovers” to stop having birds as pets, because they will answer “Who you are? Do I break the law?”.

So we have to work together to save song birds from extinction, whatever our background!

Hariyawan Agung Wahyudi, aka Yudi
Copenhagen Zoo Baluran Programme

Discover Songbirds in Finland with Helsinki Zoo

We are pleased to see the Silent Forest Campaign is spreading through Europe!

We received some news from Helsinki zoo where the Finnish visitors can learn about the Songbird crisis via many activities.

Several schools took part in a bird-theme day earlier this year.

The teenagers created material for the social media – the goal being an action poster – cartoons and short theater plays to tell their schoolmates about the need to protect songbirds in Asia.

In addition, a singing contest of songbirds’ vocalizations was organized. The winner was the Blackbird, a local species.

As we all love hearing these feathery animals, Helsinki zoo had the great idea to display a bird song automate during Spring. In exchange of a coin, visitors could listen to their favorite songbird vocalization!

Visit the audio Resource page to find out which one is your favorite?!

Finally, during a weekend, a lottery with a spinning wheel was organized and hosted by a giant bird of an unknown species!

Congratulations for the great ideas and thank you for your involvement!


Photo credits: Kirsi Pynnonen and Emmi Lustig.

Deep dive in the Indonesian forests with Yudi (Part 2)

Two weeks ago, we posted the first part of Yudi’s story (read it here if you missed it).

Today he talks about his hobby: birdwatching.

I started birdwatching in 1998, influenced by a campaign on saving Javan sparrow, conducted by one of the Indonesian birdwatching clubs. My reason was simple: I love birds! But I haven’t had the space and the time to breed them since I started college. So, enjoying the songs of wild birds was an alternative for me.

Having birdwatching as a hobby, made me think about many things. As a student in Biology Faculty, I learnt about taxonomy, histology, reproduction, ecology, etc. But above all, the most interesting subject was conservation. I started realizing what would happen if people kept catching them and there were no more left in the wild. I also joined a Nature-lover organization, so I explored the jungle many times and as a bonus saw hundreds of bird species.

Javan hawk-eagle © Wibowo Djatmiko

Together with other members, we started to promote birdwatching as part of the organization’s programs. In the beginning, we were involved in a campaign to save Javan hawk-eagle, that is believed to be our national symbol: Garuda. During this campaign, we met some people working for bird conservation in Jogjakarta and Bogor. They agreed to mentor us in developing our capacity in wildlife conservation, especially for birds.

In the meantime, we also had good relationships with local people in Mount Slamet – Central Java, where we were having frequent activities. These people’s lives depended on the forest, including poaching birds. They taught us how to recognize the species from their vocalizations, about their behaviour, their natural food, even how to catch them, etc. Although I was starting to have a different perspective on how to love birds, I have had a good relationship with most of them, and still do today.

Fortunately, I had an opportunity to work in wildlife conservation in Indonesia.

I joined Copenhagen Zoo to work in Baluran National Park, East Java, and try to save some Endangered species such as Banteng, Javan leopard, Javan dhole, Javan warthy-pig, Green peacock etc. Another one is the songbird Grey-backed mynah. Even though we work in the natural habitat of 80% of its population, this species is currently Critically Endangered. It is truly a big challenge, but this is the fact we must face.

Hill blue-flycatcher © Doi Chiang Dao NP

I have seen many songbird species go locally extinct in the place where I started birdwatching. In the early 2000s, I could see poachers were still catching Orange-headed trush, Chestnut-capped trush, Greater leafbird or even Hill blue-flycatcher. These birds were caught the most because of the high prices they could be sold for. As a citizen of Banyumas, the city where I live, I am really proud that the scientific name of the Hill Blue-flycatcher (Cyornis banyumas) refers to our city. However today we almost never see these birds in Mount Slamet anymore…

Next time, he will tell us what he does to help wildlife conservation. Stay tuned!

Art for Conservation

Earlier in the year, Emma Bowring, a young British artist asked permission to use photos from the Silent Forest website as models to paint.

She wanted to take part in a project being undertaken by “Artists for Conservation”: a 100 ft mural of 8in x 8in canvasses featuring 678 endangered birds of the world!

The mural was used as the centerpiece of the 27th International Ornithological Congress taking place in August 2018 in Vancouver, before going tour internationally
Any money raised from the project, including sale of the paintings will go towards conservation projects.

Emma very kindly sent us pictures of the beautiful Nias Hill Myna and Straw Headed Bulbul that she painted, as well as photos of the mural.

Thank you for sharing with us another great contribution to Wildlife conservation!

Confiscation, Rescue and Release of over 100 Birds by Lao Conservation Trust for Wildlife


The Lao Conservation Trust for Wildlife (LCTW) is the only Lao registered non-profit wildlife organisation working on the rescue, rehabilitation, release, sanctuary, conservation of wildlife in Laos – a treasure trove of unique biodiversity.

They have a strong footing in many conservation programmes on a national, regional and global scale and also deliver a strong message of education for Lao people – to engage them in preserving nature.

Partly due to its geographical location, Laos has become a major highway for the illegal wildlife trade with parts coming as far from Africa, through Asia and into high consumer countries, such as China and Vietnam.

The LCTW, with the enforcement authorities and other organisations in Laos, combats this trade and aims at improving enforcement and knowledge about this issue.

Find out more about their work:

Confiscation and Rescue

At the end of July, the LCTW Rescue Team was called upon by the Lao Government to help in the confiscation of a total of 105 Birds, of various species, being kept illegally by a pet store in Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

They found the birds in poor conditions in overcrowded cages, full of excrements and little access to food or water. Sadly, some had died before the Rescue Team arrived. The others were brought back to the LCTW Rescue Centre and Wildlife Hospital.

As the rescued birds are all native to Laos, the LCTW team can assess them for rehabilitation and release. They include Red-billed Blue Magpies (Urocissa erythroryncha), various Dove species, various Myna species, Red-breasted Parakeets (Psittacula alexandri) and Red-whiskered Bulbuls (Pycnonotus jocosus).

Thanks to this successful operation, in cooperation with the Department of Forestry Inspections in Vientiane, over 100 birds were saved from illegal wildlife trade!


Even better news: after housing the birds for just a few days, LCTW staff assessed that the majority was healthy and strong enough to be released back to the wild! Two release missions were carried out  in secret and protected locations.

First, various species of Doves, Mynas and Red-whiskered bulbuls were released in different sites. Then, the Red-breasted parakeets were released, in another area.

The releases went smoothly with the help of the same government officials who were able to confiscate the animals – a process coming to full circle!

The Red-billed blue magpies were the only birds that could not be released as their flight feathers were damaged and need time to regrow. They are being safely housed at LCTW until the time comes when they can be released, keep an eye on the LCTW Facebook page for a follow up story about this species!


The LCTW is proud to report such a successful end to an incredible story!

However such missions of rescue, rehabilitation and release are an extreme financial burden for non-profit foundations. Donations are always welcome: if you’d like to help, please visit https://lctwildlife.org/donate

Deep dive in the Indonesian forests with Yudi (Part 1)

Copenhagen Zoo employs several people working on various projects in Indonesia. One of them is Hariyawan Agung Wahyudi, aka Yudi, working on the Banteng program in Baluran National Park.

Yudi is 40 years old, he grew up in Central Java, Indonesia. Although his focus for Copenhagen Zoo is Banteng, he is passionate about birds, like many Indonesians, and has been around them since its youngest age. With a background of conservation biologist, Yudi loves observing them and really knows his species.

He will tell us his story from childhood to now and share his passion of Songbirds.
Discover the first part of his story today.

I was born in a traditional family in a small town named Kudus, in Central Java province, Indonesia. As many other household in Java, my family had many song birds in cage. As I remember, my father had 29 cages with different species in every cage. I had an obligation to take care of those birds, provide food, water, clean the cage and sometimes give them vitamins to make them sing happily. Our house was filled with birds song every day. Sometimes, my father took me with him to bird markets to see if there is any interesting song bird to complete our collections.

Hunting birds was also a game when we were children. Every day after school, we brought our catapult, exploring sugar plantation or following riverbanks, to shoot birds.
If we were lucky and found a nest of spotted doves full of eggs, we took it home and asked our mother to cook it. If she was too busy, we usually had a barbecue party with the gang.
Sometimes the nest had chicks inside, we then took them home and nurse them until they were able to fly. We then released them in the wild. Honestly, maybe one out of 50 survived and were able to be set free. But for us, kids, taking care of the birds made us happy.

This was in the 80s, while so many bird species were still easy to find everywhere in Java. In those times, we still had huge open areas such as paddy fields, gardens with trees, as well as wetlands surrounding our village.

In the past 25 years, many open areas have been converted into settlements. The high demand on new houses and other properties, has been compromising the birds’ habitat.
Unfortunately, just as the number of buildings, the population of people with the same hobby as me – collecting songbirds – also increased exponentially. In addition to their habitat loss, the birds in the deep forest of Java are threatened by poaching. People always desire uncommon new species. The more unique, the more wanted! This is how many birds, which have been living safely in the deep of the forest for thousands of years, are not safe anymore…” Yudi

Next time, he will tell us about when he discovered birdwatching and how he got involved with conservation. Stay tuned!


Silent Forest in Bochum

Author: Judith Becker (Tierpark und Fossilium Bochum, Germany)

A new exhibit, focusing on the Silent Forest Campaign, was launched on August 10th 2018. Visitors will find it in our conservation-exhibition hall which is dedicated to the “bee”.

Wilfried Werner and Judith Becker






The displayed diorama shows a river bank in the South East Asian forests where songbirds are kept in small cages and traded on the market. Information panels raise awareness to the songbird crisis, the affected species and to the aims of the Silent Forest campaign.

In addition to the South East Asian songbirds, we also want to inform our visitors about domestic endangered songbirds, what causes their populations to decline as well as ways to engage and help. Thus, both topics are included in our environmental education programs and guided tours.

Silent Forest was even reported in the local press!

Further activities, such as special activity days dedicated to the campaign are planned too. Visit our website to know all about it.

Double penalty for Indonesian birds…


In addition to Songbirds, Owls are also traded as pets in Asian markets.

The phenomenon, known as the “Harry-Potter-Effect” (Nijman and Nekaris) due to the popular J. K. Rowling books and films, has soared to new heights in many Asian countries but particularly in Indonesia.


Recently the Indonesian group Profauna seems to have discovered another grim purpose for captive Owls.
Trappers use a live Owl tied to a stick in the forest. It is quickly subject to intense mobbing from small Songbirds desperately trying to vacate the potential predator out of their territory. As the Owl doesn’t move away, the Songbirds get bolder, approach it and get caught in the glue traps and nets set by the trappers.

This practice is wrong is so many ways! Not only is the capture of both Songbirds and Owls in Indonesia evidently not sustainable. It is also horrible for the nocturnal Owl to be trapped in bright daylight and for the Songbirds to be trapped next to a predator. There is evidence that the Owls and Songbirds often do not survive the ordeal and that trappers often don’t bother removing the corpses. This led to the discovery of this horrendous practice.

Animal welfare and biodiversity protection are noble pursuits of a modern society and as everywhere, it needs the guardianship of education, Government and legislation to succeed…

Indonesia takes a huge step towards saving their native songbirds!

The Government of Indonesia has taken a huge step towards saving their native songbirds!
The revised list of nationally protected species, including most Songbirds, which are threatened by the trade, lays the framework for further activities and enforcement to protect Songbird populations. It however also provides the opportunity to transform the culture of enjoying songbirds in to a sustainable activity, which is also available for future generations to come.

Unfortunately there is significant opposition, as one could imagine, especially from commercial entities making profit from the Songbird trade. But their complaints are shortsighted as the current trade is literally depleting its own foundation – the Songbirds are disappearing and will not be here for future generations to see or hear if things don’t change.

The Silent Forest Campaign applauds the Indonesian Government for taking these steps now, before it is really too late.

We encourage all involved to stay strong and continue the process on the path started. For Songbirds and for people who enjoy Songbirds.

With the highest respect and appreciation on behalf of the conservation campaign, Silent Forest.