Every year, millions of wild bird’s are taken out of their natural habitat and forced to spend the rest of their lives confined to a cage. The demand for wild birds is multifold: they are highly sought after as pets but are also hunted for their feathers, beaks, casques, meat and other body parts, for use as decoration, jewelry, food and traditional medicine.
The global wildlife trade leads to detrimental impacts for wild populations and overall ecology. It involves approximately one-third of the Earth’s bird species, making birds among the most heavily traded taxonomic groups worldwide with 1,409 species classified as threatened by the IUCN Red List, in part due to trade.
Southeast Asia is one of the most biodiverse regions on Earth. With this diversity, it is not surprising that the region represents a hub in the global wild bird market, exporting and importing all kinds of birds to and from the farthest corners of the globe.
Throughout Southeast Asia, 260 bird species are threatened with extinction, with Indonesia standing out as having more globally threatened bird species (162) than anywhere else in the world. Indonesia is also, arguably, one of the biggest players in the global wild bird market, exporting species such as parrots and hornbills, while domestically trading and even importing significant volumes of birds, in particular songbirds, driven largely by the rising trend of bird singing contests.
The associated issues of the wild bird trade have raised deep concerns in both conservation and animal welfare contexts. Birds provide important ecosystem services that are critical for people and nature to thrive, including pollination and seed dispersal for the foods that we eat. The overexploitation of wild birds is leading to the destruction of natural balances, and spread of disease. Photo: Paul Hilton / Earth Tree Images