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An observational study of the social and solitary behaviors of three pairs of Bali mynahs (Leucopsar rothschildi) at two breeding facilities in Bali, Indonesia
Bali mynahs are striking pure white birds first described by Erwin Streseman in 1912, and are the only animals endemic to the island of Bali in Indonesia, where they have become an important symbol as well as the national bird of Indonesia. Locally, they are known as Jalak Bali. Their preferred habitat includes woodlands, and scrub forests. Originally, they gathered in groups of 20 - 30 during the dry season and begin to pair off at the beginning of the rainy season which closely coincides with the breeding season from November to March in the wild. Though there were once thought to be upwards of a thousand Bali mynahs along the north and southwest coasts of Bali, as of November 2001, there were only 6 birds left in the wild, all of which can be found within the 65 square kilometers of the Taman Nasional Bali Barat preserve (TNBB), or Bali Barat National Park, in northwest Bali (Wirayudha, 2000) (Figure 1). Poaching is considered to be one of the primary factors in the disappearance of Bali mynahs in the wild, since the birds are highly valued as a symbol of wealth and status in Indonesia, where they can fetch as much as $1000 to $2000 USD on Indonesian black markets, and for their ability to mimic speech. The birds have been protected by the government of Indonesia since 1970, but not actively so, and the future of the species presently lies with the captive population, which is thriving around the world. In Bali itself, three breeding facilities exist including the Begawan Giri Estate, and the Bali Bird Park, in addition to the Bali Barat National Park. The goals of these breeding programs include the eventual reintroduction of Bali mynahs into their natural habitat. Reintroduction programs have been attempted in the past, but with limited success, so it is hoped that a better understanding of how Bali mynahs behave and the factors that influence their behavior in captive settings will help to improve the success of future attempts at reintroducing the birds to the wild.
Figure 1. The Bali Barat National Park on the small island of Bali in Indonesia contained the last remaining wild population of Bali mynahs.