Thousands of Smuggled Birds Seized in East Java Port, One Suspect Arrested

These crates were stuffed with 2,711 live birds and seized from a passenger ship in East Java.
These crates stuffed with 2,711 live birds were seized from a passenger ship in East Java. Photo:

JAKARTA – Wildlife authorities in East Java have seized 2,711 live native birds of various species from a passenger ship docked in the port of Tanjung Perak in Surabaya. The birds were crammed into hundreds of plastic baskets.

Officers from the Natural Resources Conservation Agency of Indonesia (BBKSDA) of East Java have also arrested one person suspected to have purchased the birds from collectors in Kalimantan and smuggled them on board the passenger ship.

The ship, KM Mahkota Nusantara, had arrived from Balikpapan, East Kalimantan. BBKSDA believes the birds were destined for Jakarta’s Pramuka Bird Market.

That bird market, one of Indonesia’s largest, came under the spotlight in September after a TRAFFIC report revealed the sale of thousands of wild caught native birds in Jakarta markets over a three day period. The survey documented a total of 16,160 birds in Pramuka on just one day in 2014.

The latest shipment on KM Mahkota Nusantara included 1,411 Greater Green Leafbirds (Chloropsis sonnerati), 712 White-rumped Shamas (Copsychus malabaricus), 557 Hill Mynas (Gracula religiosa), 20 Australasian Bushlarks (Mirafra javanica), eight Crested Jays (Platylophus galericulatus), two Oriental Magpie Robins (Copsychus saularis) and an Asian Red-eyed Bulbul (Pycnonotus brunneus).

Greater Green Leafbird: the most numerous species in the seizure. Photo ©  James Eaton/Birdtour Asia
Greater Green Leafbird: the most numerous species in the seizure. Photo © James Eaton/Birdtour Asia

Several of these are in the list of 28 priority species for conservation action identified during the Asian Song Bird Trade Crisis Summit, including the Hill Mynas, White-rumped Shamas and Greater Green Leafbirds. The myna is traded for its ability to mimic, and the other two for their melodious songs, and are used in bird singing competitions.

“It is heartening to see action against the illegal and unsustainable trade in songbirds being prioritized in Indonesia now,” said Dr Chris R. Shepherd, Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia. “TRAFFIC congratulates BBKSDA East Java on the find, and for their continued vigilance that has led to a string of similar seizures at Tanjung Perak port in recent months.”

On 11th November 2015, 200 Greater Green Leafbirds, of which 25 had died, were seized at the same port.

The day before, 1,014 birds were seized on another passenger vessel arriving from Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan, including 468 White-rumped Shamas, 408 Greater Green Leafbirds, 24 Hill Mynas and other birds. Initial investigations in this case also revealed that the birds were also destined for Pramuka bird market in Jakarta.

A high-profile seizure from 4th May 2015 of 24 Yellow-crested Cockatoos stuffed in plastic water bottles also took place at Tanjung Perak.

“The large numbers of birds being seized, and the continuing open availability of these birds in markets such as Pramuka, indicates high levels of smuggling that is of great concern,” said Shepherd.

“BBKSDA’s decisive actions against these smugglers are very important steps in the right direction.”

Authorities in East Java are working with counterparts in East Kalimantan to return the birds to the wild as soon as possible.




TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, is the leading non-governmental organization working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development. TRAFFIC’s mission is to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature.