Indonesia's rescued Brahminy Kites find new island home

Fri Jan 29, 2010 7:55am EST
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By Angus Thompson

PULAU KOTOK, Indonesia (Reuters Life!) - Gojele, a Brahminy kite, can often be seen soaring above the tropical getaway of Pulau Kotok, part of the Thousand Islands cluster just north of Jakarta and now a rehabilitation center for kites and other birds.

He was one of eight juvenile kites seized at Jakarta's international airport in 2004 as traders tried to smuggle them out to a private collector in Saudi Arabia, and was one of the first sea-eagles to be brought to the island, successfully rehabilitated, and released into the wild.

"Their feathers were really damaged when they came in. We were working on that for almost six months," said Femke den Haas, the co-founder of wildlife conservationists Jakarta Animal Aid Network (JAAN) which is committed to reintroducing Brahminy Kites to the area.

JAAN took a run-down resort and transformed it into a sanctuary from which 56 formerly captive birds have now been freed.

The proud mascot of Indonesia's capital, Brahminy Kites are protected eagles and have been under threat in the Thousand Islands as they were captured and sold illegally as status symbols.

Indonesia's Forestry Department conducts raids on Jakarta's notorious Pramuka animal market, but acknowledges there is still work to be done.

"We are aware there are still breaches of this law but we try to continue to stop the problem," said Forestry Department spokesperson Masyhud, who claims the authority has reduced trade in the last five years.

However, JAAN says activity is on the rise again.   Continued...

<p>Brahminy Kites (Haliastur indus), also known as the Red-backed Sea-eagle, rest inside a cage at Pulau Kotok bird rehabilitation centre in the Thousand Islands, north of Jakarta January 27, 2010. REUTERS/Beawiharta</p>