WHAT is it? The Bali Mynah is one of about 15 species of mynah, a type of Asian bird that can be trained to mimic human language. It's smaller than the Greater Hill mynah, the big black-and-yellow bird most people think of when they think of mynahs. It's almost all white, with turquoise eye patches, black wing bars and a white crest.

WHERE does it live? On Bali, one of about 13,600 islands that make up the Republic of Indonesia, in southeast Asia.

IS it endangered? Extremely. There are fewer than 20 left in the wild. The birds live on 30 square miles of Bali Barat National Park. In 1913, when the birds were first discovered by scientists, there were large flocks - maybe as many as 2,000.

WHAT happened? In the late 1960s, hundreds of birds were trapped and sold to zoos, mainly in North America and Europe. In 1973, Indonesia made it illegal to hunt the birds. The birds are sold illegally for $2,000.

What's being DONE? In late 1997, the North American zoo association hired Mark Yoder, a U.S. conservation biologist, to live in Indonesia and oversee the birds' protection. Yoder hired students and scientists to track and study the birds, which wear electronic transmitters.

Are ANY in zoos? Yes, about 800 live in zoos worldwide, including 300 in North American zoos. Bob Seibels, who oversees the survival program for the Bali mynah, hopes someday to return them to Bali.

What CAN people do? Adults can make checks out to the Bali Mynah Species Survival Plan and send them to Bob Seibels, P.O. Box 1060, Columbia, S.C. 29202. - Patricia Chargot

Source: Bob Seibels, curator of birds, Riverbanks Zoo, Columbia, S.C. Seibels also coordinates the American Zoo and Aquarium Association's species survival plan for the Bali mynah.

Pub Date: 12/07/98

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