The Black-winged Myna (Acridotheres melanopterus) is an endemic species to West Java. Once common and widespread, this species has faced a massive decline since the 1960’s due to intensive trapping for the illegal caged-bird trade and changes in agricultural practices. The species is classified as Critically Endangered and is highly likely extinct in the wild. The conservation breeding programme at CCBC for the Black-winged Myna was initiated in 2008 with 21 founding birds. Over the years many birds have been bred, donated and acquired; the population is now over three times this amount and has a well-established amount of 2nd generation individuals. This species is not without its history of trials and tribulations throughout its time at CCBC, namely a theft of over 170 individuals in 2014 that caused a huge loss in genetic diversity of our local population and decimated the conservation breeding programme at the time. The population within CCBC has recovered since then but the impact upon the genetic diversity of the local population is still evident.
CCBC provides aviaries that this highly social species feels comfortable in, allowing them to partake in some of their favourite behaviours, such as sunbathing, bathing in water and foraging on the ground. The birds are supplied a high-quality diet and are regularly medically checked to ensure they stay free of disease. Although the Black-winged Myna is a relatively easy species to meet breeding requirements of, it presents a challenge with regards to health management as they are very susceptible to disease. The CCBC team do a great job of closely monitoring and visually health checking these birds every day.
CCBC is proud to have attempted multiple reintroductions for the Black-winged Myna since 2012, attempting to release individuals and establish populations in their historical geographic range. These attempts have had varying degrees of success but all have provided valuable lessons. The most successful reintroduction attempt began in 2012 with 40 individuals translocated and released into an area in Halimun Salak National Park, West Java. To help the newly-released individuals to survive in the wild, CCBC provided supplementary food and nest boxes initially. Regular monitoring was then performed post-release to monitor survival rates and behaviour of the birds. In parallel, a strong education and awareness programme was established at the release site with local communities to encourage protection of these birds. In April 2014, the first breeding in the wild was observed and the birds continued to breed regularly, the population size increased slowly and an additional release also happened in 2015 to strengthen the population and bring new bloodlines. Birds were still seen at this site 5 years post initial release but unfortunately sightings are now restricted to a few unconfirmed reports of individuals and a functional population has likely disappeared from the site. We continue researching the reasons for the bird’s disappearance at this site and also actively assess other habitat or conservation techniques for this species. Despite the population no longer persisting at this site we still take many positives from this reintroduction which was the first of its kind for this species.