Rare Timor birds for sale in Dili

Last few years I saw a government poster (or was it UNTAET’s?) identifying some (if not all) of the rare birds in Timor-Leste. The poster also warned people against trapping these birds, buying or selling them. It was said to be a criminal offence if any of these birds were in someone’s possession instead of out there in the wild. I don’t blame the government for doing so. For starters, there is only one place for wild animals in this world, in the wild; and this also includes monkeys which some restaurants in Dili and Com are displaying inside makeshift cages for their customers’ amusement. I don’t find it funny. Since then trades in wild birds in and around Dili specially disappeared. No longer did you see men parading all over Dili with exotic species of birds like eagles (or hawks) or lorikeets, selling them for as little as a few dollar.

Today I walked out of Café Terrace in down town Dili and there they were again. There were a couple of men who brought with them a number of birds for sale. Among these birds were wild pigeons (the ones with white head), a kakoak and a baby eagle (or hawk). Look at their pictures below?

I wanted to buy these birds and then set them free but on careful consideration I decided not to. If I bought these birds of them, I would have only encouraged them and others to trap more wild birds and sell them. And if I released them, I wouldn’t have a clue where to do it and if they would survive at all after spending sometime trapped in a cage. They are probably too traumatised to be able to find their way alone and survive. Besides, the eagle chook just wouldn’t survive anywhere.

As far as I know, the government has not made any change to the laws covering the protection of these wild birds. But how can you stop the people from trapping these birds? I hope you don’t buy them, so encourage them to go and get more.

Kakoak, a strange looking bird but is very elusive. Indonesians bought hundreds of them and exported them to Java before 1999.

This eagle (or hawk) chook is going for US$10.00. Its Tetum name is makikit.

Wild pigeos.


  1. Anonymous said...
    Many of these birds have had their wings clipped so wont survive by themselves in any case, and will soon starve or be eaten by predators.

    The best thing is not to buy the wild animals, so as not to create a market for them - same goes for turtles etc.
    colin said...
    First photo - Helmeted Friarbird - a forest bird, and still common in forest throughout Timor-Leste, fortunately now few are caught for trade...10,000-100,000s were caught during Indonesian times, such that they were probably very rare on Lombok.

    Second photo: Immature Lesser Coucal, presumably something like "toto"? in tetum, "makikit" will be for a bird of prey, this is in the Cuckoo Family! though its plumage coloration and size is like an eagle or kite, but its no relative.

    Third one is a forest pigeon, Dark-backed Fruit-dove

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