Thursday, 17 November 2011

Harvesting orange-headed thrush Zoothera citrina chicks in Bali, Indonesia: magnitude, practices and sustainability

Ign Kristiantoa1 and Paul Jepsona2 c1

a1 Kutilang Indonesia Foundation, Sarihardjo, Ngaglik, Sleman, DI. Yogyakarta. Indonesia

a2 School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY. UK.


Market demand for the orange-headed thrush Zoothera citrina, a prestigious songbird competition species in Indonesia, is supplied by chicks harvested from Bali Island. Using ethnographic and interview surveys conducted during the 2008–2009 breeding season we established the structure and scale of this trade and investigated means to improve its sustainability in two districts of Bali. We found that well-organized agent networks supplied an estimated 116,000 chicks worth EUR 3.175 million from Bali during the 6-month harvest season. Chicks are harvested when 4–16 days old and exported from Bali when 16–18 days old. Of 50 nests followed 60% were harvested and just 6% fledged young. Farmers deploy techniques to improve thrush food supply but lack practices to ensure continued recruitment to the thrush population. The practice of thrush harvesting started in the mid 1990s and is not yet regulated by the traditional institutions (Subak) that govern collective farming practices. Three networks determine the sustainability of the practice: (1) the fraternity of Indonesian songbird keepers, (2) agricultural agent networks, and (3) traditional village institutions. We identify the potential for coordinated forms of self-regulation and thrush population management by Subak and key groups involved in songbird contests. Furthermore, we argue that this would more likely enhance sustainability than interventions by government conservation agencies.

(Received May 19 2010)

(Reviewed August 23 2010)

(Accepted October 08 2010)


  • Bali;
  • bird harvesting;
  • community-based resource management;
  • customary institutions;
  • governance;
  • Indonesia;
  • wildlife trade;
  • Zoothera citrina


c1 School of Geography and the Environment, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY. UK. E-mail