Forests are falling silent

When making your way around Sumba, you may spot some bird cages. These highlight a real issue that's currently happening across South East Asia.

Songbird market theming on Islands at Chester Zoo

Birds whose elaborate songs were common in the forests of Indonesia are disappearing at an alarming rate leaving nothing but an eerie silence amongst the trees.

Birds are being captured and trapped to be used either in signing competitions or kept in cages as a status symbol, displaying the owner’s wealth. And the illegal trade in wild song birds has reached crisis point.

We are working with our partners, Cikananga Conservation Breeding Centre (CCBC), in Java on a vital conservation breeding programme to prevent the extinction of some of the world’s most threatened birds. Together with our colleagues at CCBC, we are managing insurance populations of critically endangered species, like the Javan green magpie and black-winged starling, with the long-term aim to then release them into safe wild areas to increase population numbers.

Black winged starling in Cikananaga
Black winged starling at the Cikananaga Conservation Breeding Centre in Java

We’re also working hard to identify potential secure release sites for some of the birds we’ve been working so hard to breed. The illegal wildlife trade is one of the greatest threats to the future of wildlife – not just birds…


Find out more about the illegal wildlife trade and what you can do to help by going to our Act for Wildlife website, here.

In order to continue our vital work at CCBC, we urgently need to build new aviaries to replace the old ones which are in danger of collapsing due to the destructive humidity. Chester Zoo South East Asia programme coordinator explains:

Every year the rainy season and termites take their toll on the wooden-framed aviaries at the breeding centre. We are at a point where the decay of the old aviaries actually risks the security and life of the birds, and we urgently need to start building new durable facilities. As these birds breed in pairs and are quite competitive, they do need a well-laid out plan of single aviaries that enable successful breeding.

You can help protect the beautiful birds of South East Asia before they disappear off the face of the planet, by texting ‘BIRD44 £10’ to 70070 to donate £10 towards our urgent aviary appeal. Alternatively, you can make an online donation here.

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