Introducing the Challenges We Face

Introducing the Challenges We Face

Jun 6, 2004

Notes from the Field: Issue 1

Letter From the President:
Introducing the Challenges We Face

Welcome! Welcome to the Premiere Issue of Notes From the Field! With each issue, we hope to intrigue and excite you as we share the progress of our Indonesian Parrot Project programs. We will often include features about the incredible Indonesian cockatoos and parrots, and offer newly discovered facts from observations of these magnificent yet elusive creatures. We’ll share new & exciting programs designed to resolve continuing issues.

We want each Notes From the Field edition to leave you with the same feeling of hope we experience when we see our efforts result in success. Above all, we want you to be informed.

I’d like to dedicate this first issue to identifying some of the ‘whys’ that Project Bird Watch and the Indonesian Parrot Project exist.

Why the Moluccas? Why Papua?

Perhaps it doesn’t seem obvious why we find it necessary to work to help cockatoos & parrots in such remote places as the Moluccas or Papua; Why not the well-known Islands of Borneo? Sumatra? Bali? Java?

To answer this and put our work in context, I think it’s critical to provide a general outline of the factors which seem to divide Indonesia into two separate countries; geographically, economically and biologically.

Indonesia is a huge archipelago (details of its geography can be found by clicking the thumbnailmap on our website homepage). Understanding this ‘split’… what makes-up each of the ‘two Indonesias’… is necessary to appreciate the nature of the problems facing native cockatoos & parrots.

Western Indonesia

This is the Indonesia of modern life: The exotic-sounding places of Jakarta… Bali… hold the wealth and power of the country. Poverty is minimal in this area: Per The Jakarta Post (5/26/04), the rate was 3.4 to 6.9% in 2002, and tourism & businesses flourish. Birds kept in small cages are symbols of wealth and prestige to the people in ‘The West’- and are delivered by middlemen who make enormous profits from this illegal trade.

The ‘Other’ Indonesia

In contrast, the Regions of the East: The Moluccas, East Papua and Nusa Tengara (including Sumba, Timor and Tanimbar)… are poor and underdeveloped, with poverty levels as high as 41.8%… A fact the Government does not seem much interested in reversing.

This ‘Other’ Indonesia is the Indonesia of pristine forests, lands that are the only native home to endangered parrots and cockatoos.

(More about the bio-geographical differences of the ’two’ Indonesias ‘Did you Know?’ article)

The Conflict

Lacking alternatives, the villagers in many of these areas are forced into subsistence living, including the illegal trapping & sale of endangered birds to satisfy the status-whims of ‘The West’… simply to feed their families. Being paid a mere $5-25 (US) for a trapped Salmon-crested (‘Moluccan’) cockatoo from Seram shows how effectively the wealthy, rich ‘West’ has exploited a People in need.

This practice places the parrots and the people, of half of the country in tremendous jeopardy: The ‘resource’ is non-sustainable, and the villagers continue the cycle of perpetual poverty.

The only ‘winner’? The Bird Brokers!

The Challenges

The big questions are:

What sustainable resources are available that can and will provide income-producing activities which nurture self-sufficiency?

How can the villagers create a means of income that neither harms the bird population nor the forests that are ‘home’ to them?

Which of these can replace the non-sustainable, poorly paying & and increasingly difficult practice of trapping and (illegally) selling birds?

These are the primary questions facing Project Bird Watch and, as we rise to the challenge, even the smallest steps forward are very gratifying. I’m glad you’ve joined us to share the adventure! Stewart President and Director Project Bird Watch “Maukah anda dikurung seperti burung” See‘Did You Know?’ for translation

Did You Know?

About our Colleagues who oversee our in-field Indonesian projects? The Yasayan Wallacea Foundation works tirelessly to assure the success of programs funded by Project Bird Watch. We’re proud of our partnership with them & invite you to visit their brand-new website @… Informative and beautiful!

·… That MoluccaNuts® are now available for our in-home feathered companions? Yes, they’re back! Instinctively-enjoyed by Indonesian parrots & cockatoos, they’re wonderfully nutritious as well.
Check out the full story about MoluccaNuts @ http://www.indonesianparrot- Learn how this one simple village industry is preserving endangered birds while raising the dignity & pride of the People Available shelled & roasted, blanched, and (new!)roasted with exotic spices. Vacuum-sealed for freshness!

·… That Alfred Wallace is revered in Indonesia in similar fashion as Charles Darwin is in the United States?

As an explorer of many Indonesian Islands, Alfred Wallace defined several unique geographical and biological characteristics of this area… including first-time discoveries of various animal and plant life. He was the first to notice and document the biogeographical differences of the East/ West Islands referred to in this issue’s Letter From the President.

He defined what is now known as the ‘Wallacean Line’: Bio-geographical boundaries which divide the flora and parrot & cockatoo-rich area of Eastern Indonesia from the natural resourcepoor Region of West Indonesia (Kalimatan, Java, Sumatra and Bali)… In fact, the Southwest Boundary stops right at Bali’s doorstep!

The Wallacea excludes East Papua and Papua New Guinea wherein the genera of cockatoos have changed from the sulphurs, goffins, albas & ’Seram’ cockatoos to the Tritons & Black Palms… In other words, they’ve assumed more of the flavor of the Australian Probosciger and the galeritas.

·… The English Translation of the phrase in Letter From the President: “ Maukah anda dikurung seperti burung”

“How would you like to be caged like a bird?”

This Indonesian phrase, published in Bird Life Indonesia (2003) has been included in our premiere issue as a reminder from Project Bird Watch that our in-home companions are as wise, curious and sentient as their wild cousins, thriving best when given opportunities & challenges that encourage their natural behaviors.

Foraging, independent time & space for exploring, decision-making opportunities and (when possible) flight, will help assure adequate activity for your beloved companion

Our commitment to preserving the quality of life for Indonesian parrots and cockatoos includes those in our care. Please visit our website for enrichment articles and ideas.

A pdf version of this issue is available. Click here.

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