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Java Green Magpie, the Critical Endemic Bird of Java

ekek-geling-jawaOn September 26-29 2015, 35 ornithologists from various countries gathered at the "First Asian SongBird Trade Summit" to discuss types of songbirds that are threatened by hunting and trade. During the meeting, 27 species of songbirds were identified in the Sunda region (which includes Peninsular Thailand, Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Bali and Kalimantan) which are threatened by trade. Twelve of them are designated as priority types for conservation action.

"One of the priority types is the Java Green Magpie (Cissa thalassina)," said Ria Saryanthi, Head of Communication and Knowledge Center of Burung Indonesia, who was also present at the event. This species of bird, which is also a member of the crow family, is listed as Critically Endangered on the IUCN World Conservation Agency's Red List due to trade. The Java Green Magpie are often found in cages, although they are very rare in nature.

The population of endemic birds to western Java is currently estimated to be less than 250 individuals. Since 2001, this insectivorous species has only been recorded in four locations in Java, namely Merapi National Park, Halimun Salak National Park, Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park and the southern forests of Bandung. The first record of the bird was in Sukabumi in 1906 and the last wass the forest around Bandung in 2006.

Initially, this species was considered similar to those living in Borneo. Both have a predominantly green body color with brownish red wings, a short tail, a red bill and a black mask around the eyes.

The differences are, the Java Green Magpie has longer wings and bill compared to the Kalimantan species, and each has dissimilar voices. For these reasons, they were separated into different species, and the other bird was named Bornean Green Magpie (Cissa jeffreyi).

Threatened with extinction and unprotected by the law, the Java Green Magpie was among prioritized species which were encouraged by the experts, through the Asian Song Bird Trade Summit, to be proposed as protected species.

"In addition, it is necessary to conduct research related to population and genetics as well as law enforcement for their capture in the wild," said Ria. The meeting also conveyed the need to study the types that can be proposed for captive breeding and reintroduction programs as well as raise awareness among various parties.