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Understanding demand for songbirds within Indonesia's captive bird trade

Marshall, Harry (2020) Understanding demand for songbirds within Indonesia's captive bird trade. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University in collaboration with Chester Zoo.


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Many South-East Asian bird species are in rapid decline due to offtake for the cagebird trade, driven largely by consumption in Indonesia and labelled the ‘Asian Songbird Crisis’. The overall aim of this thesis is to identify the scale and scope of demand for songbirds as pets, and identify a portfolio of interventions to reduce the impact of demand on wild populations of songbirds. This will be achieved by quantifying, characterising, and exploring demand for songbirds among Java’s population, through assessing the spatial and temporal patterns of songbird ownership, and profiling the behaviour, preferences and motivations of songbirdkeeping consumers. Moreover, I will explore people’s perceptions and attitudes towards bird-keeping and wild birds, and develop a methodology to determine effective behaviour change message content. Using data from over 3,000 households across Java, it was determined that cagebird ownership levels were significantly higher in urban areas and the eastern provinces of the island, with a huge number of birds kept across a third of all households. Profiling three songbird-keeping user-groups (Hobbyists, Contestants and Breeders) uncovered that user-groups diverged in their bird-keeping habits and preferences, which influence the impact that they each have on wild bird populations. Exploring public attitudes around bird-keeping in Java revealed convergent and divergent opinions on the environmental importance and impact of keeping birds in households, and the importance of peer pressure and social norms in driving bird-keeping habits. Exploring what campaign messages may be the most persuasive uncovered that messages focussed on the negative impacts of overexploitation on Indonesia’s wildlife, or on the cultural heritage of bird-keeping, to be the most persuasive. This thesis provides a deep understanding of the demand for songbirds, and the actors involved, which can be used to inform behaviour change efforts and improve the conservation of wild bird populations in Indonesia and beyond. 2 Acknowledgement

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