A montane laughingthrush with a restricted historical distribution across the upper slopes of central and western Javan volcanoes, Garrulax rufifrons (BirdLife species factsheet) is currently listed as Endangered under criterion A2cd + 3cd +4cd. This listing, as mentioned above, was on the basis that it is likely to be suffering a very rapid population decline caused primarily by heavy trapping pressure as well as habitat loss in some areas.
Further urgent work was given as a priority for the species and, while some work is still in preparation several papers concerning the species have since been published. There have been no field records of the species away from Gunung Gede-Pangrango National Park since 1990 (Eaton et al. 2015, J. Eaton in litt. 2016). During that time the status of the species at local markets has changed from ‘cheap local songster’ in 2000 through the price increasing tenfold in 2012 to the species subsequently disappearing almost completely from the market (Collar and van Balen 2013, Owen et al. 2014, Eaton et al. 2015). This clear parallel with the tale of the Javan Green Magpie is notable, although that species has been regarded as far more desirable on the markets and its disappearance could be postulated have reduced the trapping effort within the habitat shared by the two species (Collar and van Balen 2013). However many species from this habitat are still readily available at the markets, and the very high price commanded by the bulbul in recent years would suggest that if birds were still numerous at one site these would be targeted. Indeed, one individual was recently discovered in the market at Bandung, and was obtained by the Cikanaga Wildlife Center (Anon. 2016), and three were recorded in two shops during a survey of the three largest markets in Jakarta in July 2014 (Chng et al. 2015) implying that there are still some individuals left to trap and that trappers are operating within the species range.
A single individual of the subspecies G. r. slamatensis is held in captivity at the Cikanaga Wildlife Center (Owen et al. 2014, Anon. 2016), otherwise this taxon has not been recorded since 1925 (Collar and van Balen 2013), despite recent survey effort on Gunung Slamat (Mittermeier et al. 2014 [although mist-netting effort at this site was largely above the elevational range of the species]).
The species is listed as protected under Undang-undang Republik Indonesia No. 5 Tahun 1990 tentang Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam Hayati dan Ekosistemnya (Act of the Republic of Indonesia No. 5 of 1990 concerning Conservation of Living Resources and their Ecosystems), which means that no harvest or trade is permitted (Shepherd 2011). The species is not listed on the appendices of CITES.
The suggestion from the pattern of occurrence in the cage-bird trade is that this species has been reduced to a very low population level, and has likely been extirpated from several sites. It is proposed that the species qualifies for listing as Critically Endangered under criterion C2a(i), on the basis that the population size is likely to be fewer than 250 mature individuals in the wild and that there are fewer than 50 mature individuals in each subpopulation. A case could also be made that the population decline at a point in the recent past exceeded 80% over the past 14.1 years (three generations for this species), which would qualify the species as Critically Endangered under criterion A2d, and likely also A3d + A4d, on the assumption that the exploitation continues at similar levels, but the reduction in numbers in trade is a result of the population now being tiny.
Any further information is very welcome.
Anon. 2016. Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush. Cikananga Wildlife Center. Website: http://www.cikanangawildlifecenter.com/?page_id=1147. Accessed 24th August 2016.
Chng, S. C. L., Eaton, J. A., Krishnasamy, K., Shepherd, C. R. & Nijman, V. 2015. In the market for extinction: an inventory of Jakarta’s bird markets. Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia: TRAFFIC.
Collar, N. J. & van Balen, S. 2013 Notes for the conservation of the Rufous-fronted Laughingthrush Garrulax rufifrons. Forktail 29:15–18.
Eaton, J.A., Shepherd, C.R., Rheindt, F.E., Harris, J.B.C., van Balen, S. (B.), Wilcove, D.S. and Collar, N.J. 2015. Trade-driven extinctions and near-extinctions of avian taxa in Sundaic Indonesia. Forktail 31: 1-12.
Mittermeier, J. C., Oliveros, C. H., Haryoko, T., Irham, M. and Moyle, R. G. 2014. An avifaunal survey of three Javan volcanoes—Gn Salak, Gn Slamet and the Ijen highlands. BirdingASIA 22: 91–100.
Owen, A., Wilkinson, R. & Sözer, R. 2014. In situ conservation breeding and the role of zoological institutions and private breeders in the recovery of highly endangered Indonesian passerine birds. International Zoological Yearbook. 48: 199–211.
Shepherd, C. R. 2011. Observations on trade in laughingthrushes (Garrulax spp.) in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Bird Conserv. Internatn. 21: 86–91.