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Scientific Classification
Bali starling

Kingdom

Animalia

Phylum

Chordata

Class

Aves

Order

Passeriformes

Family

Sturnidae

Genus

Leucopsar

Species

L. rothschildi

The Bali Starling (Leucopsar rothschild), also known as Rothschild’s Mynah, Bali Myna, or Bali Mynah, locally known as Jalak Bali, is a medium-sized (up to 25 cm long), stocky myna, almost wholly white with a long, drooping crest, and black tips on the wings and tail. The bird has blue bare skin around the eyes, greyish legs and a yellow bill. Its habitat restricted to the island of Bali in Indonesia. Its also the regional mascot of Bali and critically endangered.

The Bali Starling was discovered on March 24, 1911 by a British ornithologist named Dr. Stressmann Baron. Dr. Baron was travelling on the expedition ship, the Maluku II, which had to make a sudden stop on the island of Bali due to damage to the vessel. Stressmann first spotted the Starling in Bubunan Village, about 50 kilometers from Singaraja, Northern Bali. He categorized it as a new species, rare and different from any other whole specimen.

The bird’s Latin name, Leucopsar rothschild, was given by a British animal expert named Walter Rothschild who first published the description of the bird to the world in 1912.

In 1925, further studies by Dr. Baron Viktor Von Plesen showed that the Starling was only found in the area between the Brumbun Gulf and the Kelor gulf in western Bali, making those approximately 320 square kilometers the only natural habitat of the Bali Starling on the planet. During this time, the number of starlings in the wild were estimated at between 300-900 birds.

Bali starling hkg
Soon after its discovery, the Bali Starling became the object of hunting, poaching and illegal trade. Aside from its eye-catching appearance, the bird’s melodic voice made it increasingly coveted by collectors and bird lovers alike. Furthermore, its status as a rare and endemic creature in addition to its exotic beauty and singing voice placed its value at hundreds of millions of rupiah. The rapid deforestation of the bird’s limited habitat was the final straw that drove the Starling to the brink of extinction.
Coin of rp200

Featured in Indonesian coin

With just 6 Bali Starlings left in the wild, the much sought after bird was thrust into the critical status of the endangered species. Captive bred starlings were then released into the wild, bringing their numbers up to 24. Although 400 more were released into the wild throughout the 1990s, by 2005, authorities showed the numbers to have once again dropped to less than 10. In present day, while the exact number of the species in the wild is unknown, estimates in 2012 showed at least 24 adult birds in the West Bali National Park, and over 100 on the neighboring Balinese island of Nusa Penida. 1,000 more are believed to be held in captivity legally in zoos and parks around the world, and perhaps more than twice as many are still being sold and traded in the black market.

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