Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush

The Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush (Garrulax rufifrons), also known as the Javan Laughingthrush, is endemic to Java Island and is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Divided into two subspecies depending on the geographic range and the colour of the neck plumage, the Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush historically has had little conservation interest, suspected to be because of its plain brown appearance. The nominate species Garrulax rufifrons is found in West Java and has white feathering on the neck plumage whilst the sub-species Garrulax rufifrons slamatensis is from Central Java and has a chestnut colour on the neck plumage. Unfortunately, this species is threatened with extinction due to trapping for the illegal caged-bird trade although it is not typically a species that trappers target and it is sadly often caught as bycatch. Due to its nervous temperament, this is not a species that is long living when out of the forest or when it is subjected to periods of high stress. The West Javan species is suspected to only persist on a few mountains whilst the Central Javan subspecies is highly likely only persisting in low numbers on one mountain, Mount Slamet.

Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush (nominate) – CCBC – YCKT

Worryingly, CCBC is currently one of only two institutions in the world to have a population of Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush housed for conservation purposes. This leaves the conservation of the Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush in a precarious situation, and one which that is further compounded by the difficulties in ex-situ breeding of the Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush. This species is very challenging for ex-situ breeding as it is naturally elusive and becomes easily stressed. A lot of effort is therefore made at CCBC to minimize stress to our birds by planting up aviaries with dense foliage so that this species feels secure and hidden from the eye line of the CCBC staff. Breeding success with this species has become increasingly consistent since the beginning of the breeding programme and our numbers, genetic diversity and knowledge of this species slowly increase. CCBC is proud to be the leader in the conservation breeding of this species and also has the only ever recorded successful breeding of the Mount Slamet subspecies. The Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush is however still the most challenging species within CCBC for conservation breeding and, considering the wild status of this species, future conservation efforts of CCBC will continue to focus to the ex-situ environment. This includes focusing to our own local population as well as encouraging other trusted facilities to house this species and develop a more extensive conservation breeding network.

Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush fledglings (Mount Slamet subspecies) – B.Ferns – YCKT