Friends of the National Parks Foundation (FNPF) is a local Indonesian not-for-profit organization that is doing extraordinary work in Bali and Kalimantan (Borneo). The organization was founded in 1997 by a group of veterinarians and conservation as well as community minded Indonesians.
FNPF’s strength is in creating community-based conservation. It combines programs that directly improve local community wellbeing through education scholarships, agro-forestry and eco-tourism in order to motivate and mobilize communities to protect wildlife, restore their habitat and support conservation work. The organization utilizes its inherent understanding of local Indonesian communities, culture, spirituality, needs and challenges, as it works closely with the local communities to design programs that benefit communities, wildlife and habitat.
Nusa Penida is a great example of the work the organization is doing. Starting in 2004, FNPF spent 2 years on Nusa Penida using its knowledge and understanding of Balinese traditions and culture to establish a good relationship with the communities on the island. It provided conservation education and advice about the community development benefits that it would in turn provide to the various communities.
As a result of FNPF’s efforts, all villages passed a traditional Balinese regulation (awig awig) to protect the overall bird population on the island, and especially, the Bali Starling. In return, FNPF provided a range of programs to help the communities, including education scholarships, a nursery growing thousands of saplings which the villagers can take freely, ecotourism promotion and a community library.
The Bali Starling, Bali’s official bird, is one of the most beautiful and one of the rarest birds in the world. In 2005, there were less than 10 remaining in the wild in Bali, despite the release of many hundreds into the West Bali National Park from the mid 1980s by the Indonesian government and NGOs. Their decline to near extinction is almost entirely caused by bird poaching, where a single bird can fetch more than US$ 1,000 (Indonesian Rp 8.5m).
FNPF rehabilitated and released 64 birds (owned by the Begawan Foundation) into Nusa Penida starting in 2006, and by 2009 there were over 100 birds. By motivating and mobilizing all 41 villages on Nusa Penida to protect the birds, FNPF was able to overcome the primary threat posed by bird poachers and transformed the entire island of Nusa Penida into an unofficial bird sanctuary. The organization is continuing to find ways to increase the number of Bali Starlings on Nusa Penida until the population is sufficiently stable in terms of numbers and genetic diversity. FNPF is also working with multiple breeders to increase the genetic diversity of the original 64 birds released in 2006 by releasing at least 10 birds each year from a variety of breeders, with the first such release scheduled in 2011. The organization is also installing nest boxes on Nusa Penida that were specifically designed for Bali Starlings, to help increase their breeding numbers and frequency.
In addition to their work with Bali Starlings, FNPF is working on a project to build a back up wild population of Java Sparrows on Nusa Penida. Once common all over Bali, especially in the ricefields, these birds are now extremely rare on Bali and FNPF is concerned that they will become extinct before they become officially classified as endangered. John Duffield, an Ubud resident who has been rearing Java Sparrows in his aviary in Ubud, has donated over 100 of his birds to FNPF. The birds were released into Nusa Penida on July 10th through a temple ceremony attended by all 41 Nusa Penida village leaders as well as various Balinese government officials. The event also marked the 5-year anniversary of the first Bali Starlings released by FNPF into the island, and the event was well attended and publicized by the media.
As for the nest boxes, six have already been installed and two had pairs of Bali Starlings nesting in them within just two weeks of installation. FNPF has proven over the last 5 years that, through their valuable work, the birds can survive, nest and breed successfully on Nusa Penida. Through the installation of these nest boxes, FNPF is able to provide the Bali Starlings with more nesting places and security with which they can increase their rate of reproduction.** [RS]