Bird poster for Nias

Text and Pictures by Simon Bruslund

As part of the Save Magiao project the planning of the education and pride campaign for the Nias Island songbirds and especially the Magiao, the Nias Myna (Gracula robusta) continues. Currently we are developing a poster with the most threatened birds of Nias and with the Magiao in the center. We aim to place this poster in all classrooms on Nias and hopefully also in many other public buildings. The poster will feature magnificent artwork by Danish artist Carl Cristian Tofte who kindly made the paintings of the Nias species for the poster. Carl Christian and his partner fine artist Jessica Lee Hjort donated the rights to use the paintings and the designwork of the poster. We look forward to presenting the finished poster here on the Silent Forest website.

Planning the layout
Students learning about endemic birds

Transition of Bangkaru Programme from HAkA to Ecosystem Impact

Author Tom Amey, Director of Social and Environmental Programmes, Ecosystem Impact Foundation.

In December 2019, a decision was made for Forest, Nature and Environment Aceh (HAkA) to transition the Bangkaru Ranger Programme to Ecosystem Impact Foundation (EI). It was felt that direct management by EI would be more efficient & effective. It also enables EI to build on the Bangkaru bird & turtle conservation work and expand this to Simeulue.

Bangkaru Island Rainforest from Above Photo: Paul Hilton @paulhiltonphoto.

 

With HAkA’s MoU with Balai Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam (BKSDA) for the Bangkaru programme ending March 2020, the first quarter of this year has been spent focusing on securing the renewal of this MoU / transitioning to EI.

Bangkaru Rangers planning the days work. Photo: Paul Hilton(@paulhiltonphoto)

During the interim period between the existing MoU ending and EI gaining the new MoU, EI and HAkA have worked together with BKSDA to secure the Bangkaru Rangers status as Masyarakat Mitra Polisi Hutan (Community Forest Ranger Partners). This gives the rangers the necessary legal basis to continue patrolling Bangkaru. EI have – through EAZA funding support – provided a formal commitment to BKSDA to finance the rangers.

EI has developed the MoU proposal to BKSDA, with an MoU request being the ability to carry out surveying of terrestrial and marine biodiversity on Bangkaru. This will give EI and partners the ability to carry out further scientific data collection into the birds of Bangkaru.

All 7 rangers as well as HAkA’s former Bangkaru Coordinator will be moved to EI staffers from 1 April 2020. HAkA are being very supportive of this transition and we will continue to partner.

Nias Hill Myna on Bangkaru Island. Photo: Ross Gallardy

Bird Conservation Work on Bangkaru, and Future Developments
Entry points and camp locations of bird poachers have been identified in partnership with a new local conservation organisation working in the area – YSAN. We have worked through a viable terrestrial monitoring program to further address bird poaching on Bangkaru that we will be implemented in the coming months.

 

 

Bangkaru and Simeulue Islands located of the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. Green and Leatherback turtles nest on these islands 365 days of the year. Sadly the beaches are covered in plastic, creating another obsticale in addition to egg poaching. Photo: Paul Hilton for Earth Tree

 

Spring news from the Prigen Conservation Breeding Ark (PCBA) – March 2020

Author Jochen Menner, Curator of Birds Taman Safari 2/ Prigen Conservation Breeding Ark

The PCBA was established in 2017 to serve as a breeding facility for the most endangered Indonesian species, the main focus is on songbirds. The centre is located within the grounds of Taman Safari 2, Prigen in East Java, it operates as a joint effort of Taman Safari, EAZA institutions and the ZGAP.

               Songbird complexes in February 2020. Photo PCBA

 

Construction updates

By January 2020 we were able to complete the construction of the fourth songbird breeding complex, consisting of 22 aviaries. 11 of them measuring 2.5m/2.5m/3m the others 7m/2.5m/5m. The smaller aviaries are currently accommodating a group of 10 (5.5) Javan Pied Starlings (Gracupica jalla) which we are keeping as a colony to decrease the problem of partner aggression. The remaining 6 smaller aviaries are used for Leafbirds (Chloropsis sonnerati and C. cochinchinensis), currently being housed individually in the hope to achieve proper breeding condition.                                           Leafbird aviaries in complex 4. Photo PCBA                       Male Javan Leafbird in PCBA. Photo Roland Wirth

The 11 larger aviaries are used to house our most sensitive pairs of larger species. For example, we are keeping Javan Crested Jay (Platylophus galericulatus garlericulatus), Rufous fronted Laughingthrush (Garrulax rufifrons rufifrons), Nias Hill Myna (Gracula robusta) and Nusa Tenggara Hill Myna (Gracula venerata) there.

With the completion of unit 4 the PCBA now consists of 121 songbird aviaries housing 24 species. In January the construction of the units 5 and 6 started and is progressing very fast, so that the completion by May seems doable. These 2 units will consist of an additional 62 aviaries with the dimensions of 3m/1.5m/3m and will be used to breed smaller and medium sized songbird species. All aviaries will be equipped with connecting slidedoors to give us the chance to connect and separate flexibly.

                                                         Construction on complex 6 in February 2020. Photo PCBA

 

Important recent breeding results

Within the last 6 months we managed to breed 10 threatened Songbird species. The most remarkable amongst those might be Wangi-Wangi White-eye (Zosterops sp.) and Maratua Shama (Kittacincla malabarica barbouri). Both taxa seem to be kept worldwide in no other institution and are of highest conservation priority.
The Wangi-Wangi White-eye is endemic to Wangi-Wangi island in the Tukang Besi archipelago, with its naturally very small distributions its vulnerable to any kind of disruption. Recently a massive increase of tourism activities has taken place on Wangi-Wangi, so a lot of suitable habitat might be lost but an even bigger threat poses the poaching for the cagebird trade. This White-eye was virtually unknown in the trade until relatively recently but with more and more Javanese workers coming to Wangi-Wangi, the species is now occurring in bigger numbers in the Javan and Balinese trade.
So far, we managed to breed with 2 pairs while 2 more are building nests, these first promising attempts will hopefully be the foundation of a successful conservation program and valuable knowledge for .

                                             Wangi-Wangi White-eye with the very first chick. Photo PCBA

 

Even more dire seems to be the situation for the Maratua Shama, endemic to Maratua island off the eastern coast of Borneo it hasn’t been seen on the island since 2011 and might very well be extinct in the wild.
Within the last 18 months we managed to secure 8 individuals of which 1 died, the remaining 7 turned out to be 1.6 and might have represented the largest part of the global population by then. Since about 6 months no Maratua Shamas have been offered in the online trade, indicating that we may have managed to get hold of some of the very last survivors.
Between October 2019 and January 2020 in total 7 Maratua Shama chicks hatched at the PCBA, 6 of them are still alive, bringing our small population to 4.9.
In January we paired our only adult male with a second female, to get as many founders involved as soon as possible. This new pair immediately produced its first clutch and successfully raised 2 chicks.

 

The first (likely extinct in the wild) Maratua shama hatched at the PCBA. Photo PCBA
       

 

 

 

 

Update on Ecological Monitoring of Bali myna at Bali Barat National Park

Author Tom Squires, PhD Candidate at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK

The Bali myna (Leucopsar rothschildi), so emblematic of the island it is endemic to, has been reintroduced to Bali Barat National Park over the past 30 years in attempts to re-establish a wild population. The population of this highly sought-after songbird was decimated from the mid-20th century onwards by trapping to supply the insatiable demand from the cagebird trade. In support of latest reintroduction efforts, an ecological monitoring project has been undertaken, its goal being to gather detailed information on the wild population and share this with the national park for the benefit of important ongoing conservation activities. Such monitoring can provide valuable insight regarding the species’ ecology, demographics, dispersal, and long-term population viability. Much of the data required for this analysis have been collected over the past 12 months, but fieldwork is still ongoing. Here, we provide a summary of the monitoring work we have been carrying out.

 

Population Distribution and Abundance
For the past 12 months, Tom and research assistants Panji Gusti Akbar, Muhammad Arif Romadlon and Aldina Rahmadhani, mapped the occurrence of Bali myna within and surrounding Bali Barat National Park. Well over 1,000 encounters with Bali myna were recorded, giving us a good idea of where birds spend their time, as well as daily and seasonal variation in habitat use. With this information, we will be able to determine which areas are most likely to support a range expansion, and areas outside the national park that birds might be expected to disperse to in the future.

Habitat Preference and Suitability
To complement the bird occurrence data, we undertook an extensive park-wide habitat survey, recording habitat structure and vegetation characteristics in 10 m radius plots. Muhammad and Aldina, recent Indonesian graduates with a primary interest in botanical field research, joined the project and after an instructive week with Bali Barat’s botanical expert, Bapak Putu Yasa, amassed an impressive dataset of >700 habitat plots across the national park and in the area immediately surrounding it. These data will be used to generate an up-to-date supervised habitat classification for Bali Barat National Park and its surrounds, as well as to examine more detailed habitat associations of Bali myna.

Productivity
Nestboxes have been installed at each Bali myna release location to offer birds safe and easy access a nesting site. This has the added benefit of enabling relatively straightforward monitoring of breeding productivity, although it is still demanding work that takes time and patience throughout the breeding season, and an in-depth understanding of behaviour to ensure disturbance to birds is minimised. Mas Untung, Andri and Sasmita have taken on this task of detailed monitoring of the nestboxes and natural nest cavities used by Bali myna in close cooperation with national park staff. They are collecting extremely valuable breeding data, and with the help of an endoscope (or “snake camera”), have been able to collect some of the first definitive data on clutch size, numbers of chicks, and nesting success from wild birds. This work will continue until the end of the breeding season, thought to be around May/June, although some birds may actually continue to breed after this period, one reason for this important work to be a continual effort.

Above Untung and Andri are in the process of checking a nest with an endoscope

Survival and Movement
Ever since the first aluminium ring was attached by Hans Christian Cornelius Mortensen in 1899 to another member of the Sturnidae, the European starling, modern-day bird ringing has helped us determine how long birds live for and where they go. The use of coloured plastic rings now means that birds need not be re-caught to know their identity, reducing disturbance. Using these methods in Bali Barat on a sub-sample of the Bali myna population has helped us to understand the movement of birds between release sites – indeed, we have confirmed that birds are moving more than we expected! Furthermore, through continual monitoring and repeated registrations of the same birds over time, we are able to measure the birds’ apparent rate of survival, an important metric required to help build a population viability analysis.

 

With the end of the current breeding season will arrive the final data required for the planned analysis to begin and for results to be published and shared with the national park, project partners, and wider scientific community. Completion of this initial analysis is anticipated by July 2020.

This work has been made possible thanks to funding from the EAZA Silent Forest campaign, and Tom also receives funding from Chester Zoo and MMU as part of his PhD.

 

Community engagement projects for Bali Mynas

Authors Sunny Nelson, Stuart Marsden & Tom Squires

Sunny (Lincoln Park Zoo) along with Tom and professor Stuart from Manchester Metropolitan University recently visited Bali Barat National Park, Bali Safari & Marine park and Nusa Penida to develop the Silent Forest Campaign pre-selected Project for Bali Myna conservation. We concentrated on community projects – the rationale being that local communities need to be on board if conservation efforts to bring the species back to the wild are to succeed long-term.


First stop was to work with our friends from Bali Barat National Park. Talks with park director Pak Agus Krisna and his staff were fruitful and we hope they will pave the way for some imaginative outreach projects with local primary school children all centred around Bali Mynas. Monitoring of the Bali Myna releases at BBNP has shown that some of the offspring of released birds are on the move – and this movement is tending to be towards the eastern parts of the park and even to community areas outside of the park.

Another project component we are currently planning is to work with hotels and other businesses near the tourist resort of Pemuteran. If hotels can be persuaded to put up nest boxes and provide feeding stations for the birds, then this might be a win-win situation with the mynas finding a safe haven outside the national park while local businesses promoting themselves to tourists as a ‘Jalak Bali-friendly community’ (Jalak is the Indonesian word for starling).

Here Sunny is discussing and learning about local community projects

 


Next stop for the team was a visit to the new Bali Myna release site at Bali Safari & Marine Park. We were so impressed with the release efforts of Dr. Kadek and his team, all backed up with some great outreach efforts with local communities led by Dayu Ari. It will be of course some time before it is known whether this release has ‘taken’ or not, but early signs are good.

 

Searching for Bali Mynas on Nusa Penida with the FNPF team.

Our final stop was the island of Nusa Penida, where the inimitable Dr Bayu and his team at Friend of the National Parks Foundation (FNPF) have been working for more than a decade on Bali Myna releases. This release is going well with several pairs observed on the island. We expect to support some work on both monitoring and assessing community engagement needs naturally depending on future funding opportunities.

The EAZA Passeriformes Taxon Advisory Group changes its name

The EEP Committee has approved the name change of the EAZA Passeriformes TAG into “EAZA Songbird TAG” as per 6 January 2020.

During the last TAG meeting in Valencia we proposed this name change to the participants with the argument that the scientific order name is not always really user friendly. Also, sometimes it tough to stay scientifically accurate as a “order name” might indicate because taxonomy changes happen, or practical accommodations has to be made for certain species to be integrated in a different TAG than the name might indicate.

Currently the EAZA Songbird TAG covers “only” species of the order Passeriformes which is already the largest group of birds with more than 6600 different species distributed throughout the world.

Under the TAG the working group on Asian Songbirds threatened by trade was instrumental for initiating and developing the Silent Forest Campaign between 2017 and 2019. This working group will continue its important work as a part of the Songbird TAG under the name Silent Forest Working Group. Members of this group routinely meets twice a year, mostly in conjunction with another EAZA meeting.

The Silent Forest Campaign Team says Thank you

To all the supporters of the Silent Forest Campaign our heartfelt gratitude. HOWEVER, the work will continue and the TAG working group on Asian Songbirds will in the future adapt the name Silent Forest Working Group and take over the campaign logo and website. The content and communications including social media will be taken over by the working group. Most of the educative resources on this website will in the near future become open source and thereby freely available to anyone educating to make a difference.

Most importantly fundraising will also continue with the same account to be available with EAZA for the next 5 years. Donations should always be marked “Silent Forest” and projects will be selected in accordance with priorities determined by the IUCN SSC Asian Songbird Trade Specialist Group.

“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.