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Characterizing bird-keeping user-groups on Java reveals distinct behaviours, profiles and potential for change

Marshall, Harry and Collar, Nigel J and Lees, Alexander C and Moss, Andrew and Yuda, Pramana and Marsden, Stuart J (2020) Characterizing bird-keeping user-groups on Java reveals distinct behaviours, profiles and potential for change. People and Nature. ISSN 2575-8314

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Abstract

Over 70 million cage‐birds are kept across 12 million households on the island of Java, Indonesia, fuelling serious concerns for the health of regional wild bird populations. Understanding the behaviours, preferences and demographic profiles of bird‐keepers will guide attempts to reduce demand for wild birds and hence the impact of trade on wild populations and their host ecosystems. We profile three songbird‐keeping user‐groups based on interviews of nearly one thousand people across Java: hobbyists, who own birds primarily as pets; contestants, who own birds to enter in singing contests; and breeders, who own birds to breed and train for resale or as a pastime. User‐groups diverged in their bird‐keeping habits and preferences. Hobbyists tended to own small numbers of inexpensive and typically native birds, while contestants and breeders owned larger numbers of often valuable birds. Hobbyists were far less likely to consider origin when buying a bird, owned a larger proportion of both potentially wild‐caught and globally threatened birds, but showed no preference for any taxon. By contrast, owning relatively large numbers of lovebirds Agapornis spp. and Zebra Doves Geopelia striata were key characteristics of contestants, while breeders owned the largest number of birds and species, in particular White‐rumped Shamas Kittacincla malabarica. Within a 2‐year period, user‐group membership was fluid, with much transitioning between non‐bird ownership and hobbyists, recruitment of non‐bird owners to contestants and movement both in and out of the breeder group. Our study provides behavioural change efforts with demographic and geographic profiles to target bird‐keepers, who tended to be more affluent and urban and to live in the eastern provinces. Among bird‐keepers, hobbyists tended to be middle‐aged and lived in the western provinces, contestants were younger urban bird‐keepers employed in business and breeders were commoner in the eastern provinces, reflecting the cultural importance of bird‐keeping among the Javanese. Efforts to increase the sustainability of bird‐keeping in Java should focus on emphasizing the importance of captive‐bred birds, in particular to hobbyists, the largest user‐group, whose bird‐keeping behaviour poses the biggest threat to wild bird populations, whilst also incentivizing legitimate breeding enterprises among contestants and breeders.

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