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Spatio-temporal dynamics of consumer demand driving the Asian Songbird Crisis

Marshall, Harry and Collar, Nigel J and Lees, Alexander C and Moss, Andrew and Yuda, Pramana and Marsden, Stuart J (2019) Spatio-temporal dynamics of consumer demand driving the Asian Songbird Crisis. Biological Conservation. ISSN 0006-3207

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Abstract

Many South-East Asian bird species are in rapid decline due to offtake for the cage-bird trade, a phenomenon driven largely by consumption in Indonesia and labelled the ‘Asian Songbird Crisis’. Interventions aimed at reducing this offtake require an understanding of the spatial and temporal dynamics of the trade. We surveyed the bird-keeping habits of over 3000 households from 92 urban and rural communities across six provinces on Java, Indonesia, and compared prevalence and patterns of bird-keeping with those from surveys undertaken a decade ago. We estimate that one-third of Java's 36 million households keep 66–84 million cage-birds. Despite over half of all birds owned being non-native species, predominantly lovebirds (Agapornis spp.), the majority of bird-keepers (76%) owned native species. Ownership levels were significantly higher in urban than rural areas, and were particularly high in the eastern provinces of the island. Overall levels of bird ownership have increased over the past decade, and species composition has changed. Notably, lovebirds showed a seven-fold increase in popularity while ownership of genera including groups with globally threatened species such as leafbirds (Chloropsis spp.) and white-eyes (Zosterops spp.) also rose sharply. The volume of some locally threatened birds estimated to be in ownership (e.g., >3 million White-rumped Shama Kittacincla malabarica) cannot have been supplied from Java's forests and research on supply from other islands and Java's growing commercial breeding industry is a priority. Determining temporal and spatial patterns of ownership is a crucial first step towards finding solutions to this persistent, pervasive and adaptive threat to the regional avifauna.

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