The Conservation Breeding Program for Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush (Garrulax rufifrons)
The Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush (Garrulax rufifrons) is endemic to Java Island and divided in two subspecies depending on their geographic range and the colour of the throat: Garrulax rufifrons rufifrons is found in West Java while Garrulax rufifrons slamatensis is from Central Java. Unfortunately, this species is threatened of extinction by the illegal cage-bid trade and only few individuals remain from the West Java subspecies while the Central Java subspecies is thought to be extinct.
This species is listed as ENDANGERED by the IUCN Red List and, because of its brown ‘unattractive” colour, the Rufous-fronted laughingthrush got few interest in the past for Conservation.
CCBC is currently the only institution in the world to have a population of Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush and sadly, have one of the last specimen from the subspecies Garrulax rufifrons slamatensis. It is a shame that this subspecies will go extinct when this last female will die, even nobody noticing it.
CCBC houses this species since 2013 and, because of breeding is still a challenge, the team decided to focus intensively on this species to increase the captive population size which is only of 15 individuals.
All breeding are recorded by CCTV to ensure that the team will react quickly to all kind of challenges encountered. The last breeding season showed great success with two juveniles that fledged out of the nest in mid-August. They were sexed as male and female and could be integrated in the breeding programme as soon as they reach their sexual maturity.
This species is protected by Indonesian law, meaning that all trade is forbidden. Unfortunately, this measure doesn’t stop poachers and Rufous-fronted Laughingthrushes can still be found on the illegal markets. On the 28th of October, one individual was rescued from a bird market in Bandung and will be included into the breeding programme, after its quarantine period. The bird arrived in poor condition on early morning with wounds on the head, from the regularly hit into the small bamboo cage in the market. The bird is thin and CCBC Team found that, sadly, the feathers on its both wings were cut to prevent flying. Fortunately, it is recovering well with the help of appropriate diet and medicine. After the next moulting season, the bird will be able to fly again.
“I feel a strong bond with the Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush. This species is only present in Cikananga in captivity and will probably be extinct in the wild in the coming years if nothing is done to protect it. This species is not considered as “sexy” as the other birds since it is brown in colour, very shy and difficult to breed. But this shouldn’t be a factor in the decision to protect it so I’m very concerned about its future.” Anaïs Tritto, CCBC Curator