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Bird-keeping in Indonesia: Conservation impacts and the potential for substitution-based conservation responses

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Bird-keeping is an extremely popular pastime in Indonesia, where there is a thriving internal market in both wild-caught and captive-bred birds. However, little is known about whether the scale of bird-keeping represents a genuine conservation threat to native populations. Here we present the results of the largest ever survey of bird-keeping among households in Indonesia's five major cities. Birds were found to be urban Indonesia's most popular pet (kept by 21.8% of survey households) and we conservatively estimate that as many as 2.6 million birds are kept in the five cities sampled. Of bird-keeping households, 78.5% kept domestic species and/or commercially bred species and 60.2% kept wild-caught birds that we classified into three conservation categories: native songbirds, native parrots and imported songbirds. Compared to non-bird owners, households keeping wild-caught birds in all three conservation categories were richer and better educated, whereas households owning commercially-bred species were richer but not better educated and households keeping domestic species did not differ in educational or socio-economic status. We conclude that bird-keeping in Indonesia is at a scale that warrants a conservation intervention and that promoting commercially-bred alternatives may be an effective and popular solution.
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The most traded species are the blue-green damselfish (Chromis viridis), the clown anemonefish (Amphiprion ocellaris), the whitetail dascyllus (Dascyllus aruanus), the sapphire devil (Chrysiptera cyanea) and the threespot dascyllus (Dascyllus trimaculatus). The ten most traded species account for about 36 per cent of all fish traded for the years 1997 to 2002. Trade data, correlated with aquarium suitability information, indicate that two species known not to acclimatize well to aquarium conditions are nonetheless very commonly traded. They are the bluestreak cleaner wrasse (Labroides dimidiatus: GMAD records 87,000 worldwide imports of this species from 1997 to 2002) and the mandarin fish (Synchiropus splendidus: GMAD records 11,000 live individuals exported to the EU in the same period). 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