Jakarta’s Bird Market, locally known as Pramuka, has been in existence since 1975. It began as a small building with over 100 stalls selling birds. A few years later, a bigger building with four stories was built near the old one. The bigger building housed 200 more stalls. However, many of these stalls remain unoccupied, and on regular days there are at least a total 250 stalls from both buildings that are open for business. From these small beginnings, Pramuka has developed to be the largest bird market not just in the city but in the entire Southeast Asian region. There are two other bird markets in Jakarta.
Because of Pramuka’s growing popularity, some traders began to offer wildlife species for sale other than birds. Among the most common animals being sold are rare birds, orangutans, long-limbed gibbons, crested macaque, and black monkeys. In some instances, even the Sumatran tiger, which is an endangered species, and the komodo dragon, which is a vulnerable species, are being sold in Pramuka in spite of strict laws against such activity.
To stop the illegal trade of endangered birds and other animals and apprehend those who are involved, the Forestry Department conducts raids in Bird Market. In recent years, the Forestry Department has been stricter in guarding the animals being sold here. However, to avoid being apprehended, some traders do not display the endangered animals. When people pass by and look at the birds on display, the traders approach prospective buyers and offer them the endangered animals. It is said that if you ask for a bird or any other animal that the sellers do not have, they can get one for you.
The birds being sold here vary. Even if you visit the market daily, you will find a new animal on display that wasn’t there the day before. Among the rare birds that have been seen on display in Bird Market are the Bali starling and the Javan scops owl. The Bali starling is a critically endangered animal. At present, it can be found only on the island of Nusa Penida and in West Bali National Park. There are just an estimated 1,000 Bali starlings that are in legal captivity. The Javan scops owl is a very rare owl that can only be found in Indonesia, particularly in a national park in Java. Sightings have been very infrequent; the owl has been spotted just a number of times in the present century.
The Bird Market attracts many buyers – tourists and locals alike – because of the many colorful birds that are being sold. If you love birds, you will surely enjoy going through every stall and surveying different avian species. There is no harm in buying common birds or animals. However, if you do decide to get one, make sure you are familiar with it so that you do not buy a rare or endangered bird or animal by mistake. You must also be aware that some birds do not take well to captivity. As a result, they die a few days after being bought.