BALI STARLING or known as Curik Bali is a type of songbird of Bali endemic species which is only found in the forests of western part of Bali Island. This Sturnidae group of bird with its Latin name Leucopsar Rothschildi discovered since 1910’s was crowned as the emblem of Fauna in Bali Province since 1991. Because of its beautiful and elegant appearance, bird that has special characteristics of fluffy white all over its body except at the tail end and wing has black color is one of the many popular or be the target of collectors and bird raisers. As a result, this type of bird numbers continues to shrink. Moreover, the disruption of their habitat and illegal hunting occurred continuously. Therefore the status of Bali Starling currently is critical in the IUCN Red List and listed in CITES Appendix I.
Bali Starlings live in the Forest area in the western part of Bali Island, West Bali Forest Park (THBB) or known as West Bali National Park (TNBB). TNBB has an area of 77,000 hectares, covering 10% of total land area of Bali. This TNBB consists of various forest and savannah habitats, which in the midst of this TNBB is dominated by the remains of four volcanoes of Pleistocene, with Mount Patas as the highest point in the region.
There are 160 species of protected animals and plants in the TNBB region, such as bulls, deer, monkeys, bats and various kinds of birds. This area is the last place for the only Bali endemic which is nearly extinct in its natural habitat, namely, the Bali Starling.
As changes of human needs and land uses – the forest-dwelling animals that used to live comfortably, increasingly concerned by human activities. It is compounded with illegal hunting and destruction of forests, forest animals and plants are also disrupted, and the number continues to shrink. One of them is Bali Starling. This beautiful bright blue color on its cheek and grayish legs bird is among the victims. It is not only the victim of illegal hunting, but also several times the theft had occurred in the Bali Starling breeding in TNBB. However, there had been no massive theft in its official captivity at TNBB region.
These rumors keep evolving – to ‘drag’ the tranquility of Sumber Klampok residents who live close to TNBB area. Although there were merely rumors, but they still made people frustrated. “Although there was no evidence that the offenders of theft and illegal hunting of Bali Starling were people around the area, but we concerned about the growing issues that the theft perpetrators of Bali Starling bird were residents here” said Rahabit, one of the residents of Tegal Bunder, Sumber Klampok Village, Gerokgak – Buleleng.
Being motivated by this condition, Rahabit said, the residents of Tegal Bunder and surrounding areas made a Bali Starling breeding group named “Manuk Jegeg”. “We, as the citizens who have settled in this region from long time ago indirectly or directly are responsible for the condition of Bali Starling birds decreasing in number,” Rahabit said, who is also the treasurer of Manuk Jegeg group.
Manuk Jegeg group is a group breeding Bali Starling – where this group is directly built and supervised by Curik Bali Lovers Association (APCB) with the management done independently. The group was founded in 2011 with 20 members. Since its initial establishment of Manuk Jegeg group, they got assistance of sires from APCB – with ‘Ngadas’ system. Initially the group received assistance of 12 pairs (sires) or 24 Curik Bali. The growth is quite encouraging, in 2013 this group was able to produce 60 nestlings.
Rahabit himself breeds 5 pairs of adult Bali Starling currently. He said that breeding Curik Bali needs patience and of course money. Why not, with self supported the cost, Rahabit admitted to feel overwhelmed to breed 5 pairs of birds that are now hatching and also in the process of mating. “In this economic climate, it is hard, as the costs expended to finance the maintenance of birds are the same as the costs of children’s school,” he said.
For feed, Rahabit spends Rp. 4,000 to Rp. 5,000, – per pair every day. And even then not all of the cost is to buy – meaning there are other costs obtained by ‘looking for’ in the surrounding forests, such as, ant eggs or Angkrang. But other costs of staple foods, such as kroto, crickets and other supplementary foods should be bought. “The cost is quite high” he added.
Similarly, the way of its maintenance requires considerable extra attention because of classified and sensitive bird species breeding is quite difficult. For examples: ‘pairing’. Bird which was firstly discovered by Walter Rothschild, British Citizen, has a loyal nature – not easily move to another couple. Therefore, to marry it requires several steps, until they actually fit as a couple. “Otherwise they will kill each other in a single cage. So to make sure they fit, there are several stages,” he explained. Not just how to marry but there are also other steps that should be followed. It could be due to caution and patience as well as directives from APCB, this group is quite successful, even it can be said to be the best for it obtained health monitoring from APCB directly. “Health check up conducted regularly by veterinarian from APCB team.” He said.
Although economically, it is not much help, but according to Rahabit there were values that can be taken. He asserted proudly to help preserve Bali Starlings, and also with their involvement in breeding Bali Starling a lot of knowledge and good relationships with researchers both domestic and overseas are intertwined. “The advantage is a lot in terms of science. As we could know more about the characteristics of the bird as well as other sciences,” said Rahabit.
For Bali Starling nestling costs 12.5 million per pair and the profit for adult birds could reach Rp. 25 million per pair. This high price is due to the way of breeding is difficult; in addition, they are also classified as protected and almost extinct animals. And no less important because of the uniqueness of this songbird, the shape and beautiful feathers, as well as its behavior or sound. Alit