A Curator of Birds, Andrew Owen, is visiting Cikananga

October 2011

Our sponsor from Chester zoo, a Curator of Birds, Andrew Owen, is visiting our center and also having a forest walk in Halimun-Salak and Gede-Pangrango National park of Java to perform birdwatching.

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.

Green Magpie

“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.

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.

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