There is a growing concern in the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation (DNP) about the rising popularity of the red-whiskered bulbul (Pycnonotus jocosus) among notorious yet unregistered breeders. This charming bird belonging to the protected wildlife species, precisely No 550 as noted under the 2003 ministerial regulation, is both a darling to passionate pet owners and a prey with notorious hunters who seek it illegally. The red-whiskered bulbul doesn’t only charm with its entrancing melody but is also a spectacle with its impressive aesthetic features, something that undoubtedly contributes to its increasing popularity.
The red-whiskered bulbul, aptly named for the contrasting scarlet red patches around its face, is an exquisite bird measuring approximately 20 centimeters in length. Its enticing natural ensemble consists of earthy brown upper parts which ripple down to blend with its whitish underparts. These are further characterized by buff flanks and a distinguished dark spur adorning its breast at shoulder level. Topping it all is a majestic sharply pointed black crest that pays tribute to their elegant and statuesque bearing. Further highlighting their engaging look is a long, brown tail equipped with white terminal feather tips that adds a hint of plush exoticism to their overall appearance.
However, the striking beauty of the red-whiskered bulbul is both its charm and downfall, as it leads to illegal poaching and uncontrolled breeding, threatening the bird’s population and overall ecosystem. Athapol Charoenshunsa, the acting director-general of the DNP, has pointed out the significantly high number of breeders, beyond the official tally of mere 11,466 registered individuals. The discrepancy in numbers suggests a larger number of breeders operating under the radar.
Given the existing challenges in obtaining breeding permits due to their rigorous and time-consuming application process, many breeders opt to operate without legal recognition. In a bid to address these issues and protect the wildlife species, the DNP has decided to streamline the registration process. The modifications are expected to make the process simpler and more convenient, offering incentives for breeders and pet owners to get registered. It’s a step towards controlling the breeding of the red-whiskered bulbul, protecting it from illegal trade, and conserving its wild presence from indiscriminate hunting.
Mr. Athapol said that this decision is geared towards safeguarding the red-whiskered bulbul population and preserving their natural habitat. Hopefully, the new measures will encourage breeders to step forward and get their operations officially registered. The increased measures are likely to breed a newfound Awareness among bird lovers and breeders, reinforcing the need to safeguard these unique species while continuing to be enthralled by their mesmerizing beauty, and significantly, without causing harm to their existence.