By Anaïs TRITTO
The Black-winged starling (Sturnus melanopterus) is a passerine endemic from Java and Bali, which is currently listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. The main threats that face this species are the intensive catching for the illegal bird trade and the intensive use of pesticides in land where the birdsare used to forage for food (this latter threat is not fully confirmed yet).
Currently, only Cikananga Wildlife Rescue Centre holds this species for conservation purpose and reintroduction efforts have been implemented to counteract the loss of the West Java subspecies (Sturnus melanopterus melanopterus). Two reintroductions are in progress: the first one in Pongkor Gold Mine within the GunungHalimunSalak National Park (West Java Province), the second in RawadanauReserve (Banten Province).
The 23rd of April 2013, 40 birds were released in Pongkor Gold Mine within GunungHalimunSalak National Park. This place presents a suitable habitat for the birds because of the presence of agricultural lands and secondary forests to offer both food and shelters. Regular monitoring is performed to get information on the persistence of the released population and their general behaviours in this new wild habitat. Five months after release, 17 birds are still present in the vicinity of the release site where a large group of 14 birds settled close to a village, rice plantations and grass lands. People leaving in the village are supportive of this programme and seem to cohabitate well with the birds. Further monitoring sessionwill confirm the stability of this population and its potential increase through breeding behaviours and future hatchings. Another group of birds were heard in another valley but their number is currently unknown. With this new group, the survival of the birds 5 months after release could reach 50% which brings good hope for the future.
A new release in Rawadanau Reserve is currently in progress. Habitat assessment, education and awareness programme to the local community were implemented to judge of the suitability of the release site. Soon, 25 birds will be released on this large area composed of agricultural lands, swamp area, swamp-forest and primary forest (120 hectares in total). Regular monitoring and education to local people will assess of the potential success of this new release.
Reintroduction team members have big hopes for these two reintroduction programmes as the habitats seem adequate for the birds and local people show good support by helping the team in the implementation of this release in both sites.