The silent forest
Since mid-October, the Jungle World at Hellabrunn Zoo has been graced with the presence of two female Bali mynas flying around the enclosure. These beautiful, but critically endangered birds are the flagship species of the new EAZA Silent Forest campaign, which is supported by Hellabrunn as a participating zoo.
A walk through peaceful forests is for many a welcome change from everyday life. However, silence in the forest is not always desired: in Southeast Asia, for example, people would prefer less silence and more singing. Particularly as more and more songbirds are disappearing from the tropical forests of the region.
The dramatic decline in Asian songbirds is largely due to culturally rooted traditions. Songbirds are not only desirable as beautiful pets, trading in certain species is now very lucrative. Traditional songbird competitions have become a multi-million dollar business in Southeast Asia, with thousands of singing competitions taking place every week across the region. And as breeding songbirds can be quite challenging, traders find it much easier and more lucrative to capture species from the wild. Furthermore, it is believed that wild birds sing more beautifully and thus have a better chance of succeeding in competitions.
Recently arrived from two zoos in England, the Bali mynas in the Jungle World at Hellabrunn are also among the species affected in the wild. These elegant white songbirds, whose species was only discovered in 1910, are found exclusively in Bali. However they are now almost extinct in their natural habitat. The European zoo community is therefore actively involved in a zoo-based conservation breeding programme for the Bali myna and regularly sends birds back to Bali to be released into the wild. As a member of the breeding project, the two female Bali mynas at Hellabrunn Zoo are expected to be joined by male partners in the near future.
The EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) campaign Silent Forest was launched in October to raise awareness of the dwindling songbird populations. An important goal of the two-year campaign is to increase knowledge and awareness both in Europe and Asia. Hellabrunn Zoo therefore plans to provide visitors with a new information service in the Jungle World next year.
The zoo is now also collecting used binoculars for schools and other institutions in Indonesia. These will be distributed via the organisation green-books.org to arouse interest and fun in bird watching in the wild. Donors are invited to drop their used binoculars off at one of the zoo's Service Centers or send them by post to:
Muenchener Tierpark Hellabrunn AG
Education & Conservation
DE - 81543 Munich
Last but not least, the zoo also provides financial support to set up breeding stations for the project in Southeast Asia. The aim of these stations is to minimise the number of songbirds caught in the wild in future.