Monday, 25 January 2016 | MYT 11:24 AM
BOGOR, Indonesia: Barely a few days old, perched on a nest of twigs inside an incubator, a newborn Indonesian songbird -- cherished for its melodious chirp -- tweets weakly as a tiny metallic ring is attached to its leg.
The tag shows potential buyers the chick was bred in captivity. It’s an important symbol, which shows it was not trapped in the wild and smuggled, an illegal trade which sees birds packed in their thousands in shipping crates or stuffed in plastic bottles before being sold in giant avian markets in Indonesia’s major cities.
The hatchling was born at Megananda Daryono’s vast aviary in Bogor, a city on the island of Java, where he runs a breeding programme that is a sustainable alternative to the roaring trade in birds caught in the wild.
“I realised the birds being caught in the forest would one day be gone for good,” Daryono told AFP at the site, now a cornucopia of exotic macaws, brilliant parrots and vulnerable songbirds.
He is among a small number trying to turn the tide in a country where once-common bird species are being driven to the brink of extinction, as an obsession for bird-keeping and even avian singing contests fuels unprecedented demand.
The jungles of the archipelago are home to 131 threatened bird species, according to wildlife trade watchdog TRAFFIC, more than any other country except Brazil. There are a dizzying array of exotic species, from the Sumatran Laughingthrush, to the Chattering Lory and the Black-winged Myna.