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Bali Myna to benefit from first ASAP emergency grant amid COVID-19 impact

The Bali Myna in Indonesia is the first species to benefit from a Rapid Action Fund from the IUCN SSC Asian Species Action Partnership (ASAP). The grant will fund critical conservation action for the bird in Bali, Indonesia where COVID-19 has paralysed tourism and impacted conservation efforts.

The first grant from ASAP’s Rapid Action Fund, launched in May this year, has been awarded to the Friends of National Parks Foundation (FNPF) for their work on the Bali Myna. The bird is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species™, placing it one step away from extinction in the wild.

The Bali Myna Leucopsar rothschildi is endemic to the tourist hot spot island of Bali, Indonesia, which means it is found nowhere else in the world in the wild. This striking bird has a snow-white plumage and unusual bright blue patches around its eyes. Its attractive appearance and beautiful song have put it in high demand for the songbird trade. Because of this worldwide demand, unsustainable, illegal trapping has pushed this bird to the brink of extinction in the wild.

FNPF conducts conservation work for the Bali Myna in Nusa Penida, Bali. They have set up a network of nesting boxes, as there are no natural breeding hollows for the bird. In normal times, international volunteers to the hugely popular Bali offer their time and donations to maintain the nest boxes. However, due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions, these international volunteers are no longer in Bali, leaving the organisation without their main funding source and hands-on support.

A Bali Myna using a Friends of National Parks nest box ©Friends of National Parks Foundation

ASAP has awarded FNPF a Rapid Action Fund so that during these strange and unexpected times, the nest box network can be maintained. Bali is likely to remain closed to international visitors for the remainder of 2020. The funding will be used to pay local employees to check the nest boxes, which can quickly become overrun with snakes and rats if not maintained. With the Bali Myna breeding season approaching fast, the need is particularly urgent.

Drh I Gede Nyoman Bayu Wirayudha, CEO of the Friends of National Parks Foundation said, “This is a very challenging time to raise funds through ecotourism. With ASAP’s support, we can continue and improve our important Bali Myna conservation programme in Nusa Penida, Bali. With this contribution we can employ more staff which allows us to monitor the bird with wider coverage and install more nest boxes to give the bird a better chance to breed.”

The Rapid Action Fund was launched by ASAP in May 2020 with support from Fondation Segré. The grants are targeting species on the brink of extinction in Southeast Asia, a region that has seen unprecedented decline in wildlife over the last few decades. Many species lack the conservation attention they desperately need, and without immediate action, will likely become extinct. The Rapid Action Fund targets unexpected conservation emergencies, or conservation activities requiring urgent support that are critical for the conservation of ASAP species.

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