Working towards a brighter future for the Crested Jayshrike

Text by Chris R. Shepherd and Boyd T. C. Leupen from the Monitor Conservation Research Society. Both are members of the IUCN SSC Asian Songbird Trade Specialist Group and collaborate with the Silent Forest Group on trade research through the shared Monitor Songbird Lab

Through the generous funding from the Silent Forest Campaign, Monitor Conservation Research Society (Monitor) has been able to undertake an investigation into the largely unknown trade in the Crested Jayshrike Platylophus galericulatus in Indonesia. The Crested Jayshrike is native to Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand. It is threatened by loss of habitat due to logging and conversion of forests to plantations and agricultural land, and by intense trapping to supply the cage bird trade.

Malayan Crested Jayshrike (Platylophus galericulatus ardesiacus). Image by Roger Boey

Indonesia is the epicentre of Southeast Asia’s songbird trade. Much of the country’s songbird trade is illegal and unsustainable exploitation of wild populations is driving an increasingly long list of species towards extinction. Songbird competitions are one of the main drivers behind this immense trade. Although Crested Jayshrikes are appreciated for their striking appearance and song, they are not primarily used to compete in singing contests. Instead, they fulfil an important backstage role; they ‘train’ the competing songsters. They are kept in cages near competition birds who then incorporate elements of the Crested Jayshrikes’s song into their repertoire, giving them an edge over other birds in the competition.

Javan Crested Jayshrikes (Platylophus galericulatus galericulatus) are heavily trapped. They have darker plumage and paler eyes than the malayan population. Image by Jochen Menner, PCBA

While currently assessed as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List in Threatened Species, it is thought that the Crested Jayshrike is in serious decline in many parts of its range. It is our hope that the information resulting from this study will ring alarm bells and call attention to the plight of this species and catalyse immediate actions to prevent further population declines.

The findings of this study will be published in the near future, complete with recommendations to ensure a brighter future for this beautiful and unique species. Watch this space!

In the Indonesian Songbird markets the Javan Crested Jayshrike is a sought after “masterbird”. Image by Simon Bruslund, Silent Forest