The Indonesian tourist paradise of Bali showed its environmental chops recently when its Safari Park joined up with the KASI Foundation, Feldman Eco Park, PKBSI (Indonesia Zoos & Aquarium Association), APCB (Bali Starling Conservation Society) and BKSDA Bali (Nature Conservation Agency) to hold a workshop on Bird Release Protocol and release 40 starlings in the wilds of the park.
A joint commitment for conserving protected birds and other wildlife was signed by Bali Vice Governor Tjokorda Oka Artha Ardana, Bali Police Deputy Chief I Gede Alit Widana, West Bali National Park head Agus Ngurah Krisna, and the head of APCB, Tony Sumampau.
Prior to the release, several habitat studies were carried out at the park to assess suitability as a potential release site for the birds. A total of 38 bird species were found within the Safari Park, indicating that this location could support a good carrying capacity of birds in the future.
Bali Safari Park, one of the leading conservation institutions on the island, is committed to the long-term protection and sustainability of Indonesian endemic and native species, through consolidated breeding and release programmes.
Captive breeding facilities were established specially for the Bali starling (Leucopsar rothschildi), a critically endangered bird endemic to Bali.
Captive-bred birds were released into the wild to supplement and increase Bali starling populations. Previous release programmes have not resulted in significant positive impact to wild populations and this current effort aims to change that.
Conservationists have identified two main challenges to the successful increase of wild Bali starling population numbers; firstly, low habitat carrying capacity and secondly, increasing adaptability of Bali starlings to their release habitat.
The success of the black-winged starling release programme at Taman Safari Indonesia Bogor in 2016, is used as a model of how captive-bred Bali starlings can be released as part of in situ conservation efforts, using similar release protocols.
Bali Safari Park has been conducting public awareness programs to encourage communities in three nearby villages, namely Medahan, Lebih and Serongga, as well as students from nine elementary schools around Bali Safari Park to protect and monitor the released birds and other wildlife.