It is a powerful bird with a white head and chest. It’s eyes are sharp and its claws ready to catch its prey. It has a strong personality is said to represent the people of Jakarta, who are constantly on the move.
At 45 cm tall, the Brahminy Kite (Elang Bondol) is about the same height as a gamelan shadow puppet. As Jakarta’s mascot as a result of Governor Regulation No.1796 of 1989, its sculpture can be clearly seen on the border of east Jakarta and Bekasi.
Previously, when Jakarta had many trees and its river was clean, the Brahminy Kite was easy to see. Jakarta was once a beautiful city and had so many open green spaces it was called the “Venice of the East”.
Trees play an important role for birds as place for them to play, as a source of food, as a place for nests and breeding. As a source of clean water, the river previously provided daily fresh food including fish and shrimps.
Today, Jakarta has changed. People from across Indonesia have come to Jakarta looking for a better life, which has placed enormous pressures on the city’s natural resources. The amount of green spaces has declined as they have been converted into residential areas, offices, and used for industrial purposes. The trees are slowly disappearing and being replaced with skyscrapers. As a result, the Brahminy Kite is facing problems finding enough fresh food to eat each day. The fish it relies upon are becoming harder to find because the river has become so polluted.
The Brahminy Kite is now forced to eat dead animals that have been killed by a motor vehicles. This is not part of its natural diet and has been used to supplement the fish it previously relied on since the 1980s.
The Brahminy Kite is listed as a protected species based on the Government Regulation No 7 of 1999 for the Preservation of Flora and Fauna. But in fact hunters are still catching this species to be sold illegally.
As a result of the environmental pressures being placed on Jakarta, the Brahminy Kite has resettled to some of the Thousand Islands, including Kotok and Pramuka Island, located off the coast of Java. Here this species can live safely and fly gracefully over the ocean to find fresh fish to eat.
We hope the Brahminy Kite will adapt to its new habitat and increase its population through successful breeding.
When we miss the Brahminy Kite in Jakarta we can always look at the sky in and listen for it’s distinct “syii–ii–ii” sound.
Let’s protect Jakarta’s mascot and help it to return to the city.*