FREE AS A BIRD – Bird watching trips for Indonesian urban families

Author: Frantisek Pribrsky (Ostrava zoo, Czech Republic)

Indonesia has one of the highest number of bird species listed as threatened. Nevertheless, thousands of these endangered species are still being sold on local markets. Every fifth Indonesian household keeps caged birds as pet…

Due to socioeconomic reasons, there is lack of outdoor culture and families rarely have the luxury of going on trips in natural environment. Therefore, contacts with nature are limited and so is the population’s empathy toward wildlife.

However, this might change in the short future, thanks to the Disney Foundation! FREE AS A BIRD, a movement initiated by Ostrava Zoo, received a WAZA Nature Connect Grant. The 15.000 CHF will help support its goals aiming at shifting the locals’ mind by allowing families from urban areas to watch birds in the wild rather than in a cage.

Our main objective is to create bird-watching and educational activities (e.g. bird and plant identification using binoculars and fun-to-handle worksheets; eco-games; drama play etc.) to encourage local children and their parents towards long-lasting devotion to nature and environment. Experienced birding guides from Burung Indonesia (Indonesian BirdLife Partner) will be involved in this project.

With a deeper connection with local nature and practical concrete examples of how to care and conserve limited natural sources, we hope to achieve a mind shift with a real impact to the participants daily lives and behaviours. Providing a glimpse of what nature has to offer might help local populations understand the negative effects of poaching and bring them a desire to protect Birds in their natural habitat.