01 01/01/0001 - 07/09/2011

Conservation From 7000 Miles

  • Javan green magpie
  • Birds

Our very own Curator of Birds, Andrew Owen, is fighting against time to save the increasingly rare Javan Green Magpie, found on the Indonesian Island of Java.

There were fears that the birds may have disappeared forever but, despite working 7,000 miles away, Andrew has already helped to track down three birds which could now provide a much-needed boost for the dwindling species.

“To all intents and purposes, this bird seemed to have disappeared. There didn’t seem to be any zoo-based breeding programmes and little evidence of the species surviving in the wild.

“I heard about this bird’s plight and was so concerned I tracked down colleagues in Java who were willing to carry out a survey of the magpies.  We have managed to find three which were being kept privately.

“Three birds may not seem like many but it could mean the difference between extinction or the starting point for a successful breeding programme. These could prove to be the last three birds left, but hopefully more captive held birds can be found and used to help save the species,” said Andrew.

Andrew even visited the Natural History Museum in Tring, Hertfordshire to look at magpie skins to help the team correctly identify the magpies on Java.

Javan Magpie - Chester Zoo

The mission to track down the birds with their distinctive green plumage has included trawling markets and interviewing traders. The rescued birds, which are now being cared for at Cikananga Wildlife Centre on Java are yet to be sexed. The survey will also continue to see if any more can be tracked down or whether they have fallen victim to the pet trade and shrinking habitat.

Andrew said: “Distance shouldn’t be a barrier to conservation – I was concerned enough about the species to be able to put the wheels in motion. One we have sexed the birds we can see if there is a viable way to secure their future.”

Andrew will now continue to provide expertise for the project with advice and support and one day hopes to see a viable safety net population, which in turn can support conservation efforts to save this beautiful species in the wild.