Javan Leafbird Chloropsis cochinchinensis


Justification of Red List Category
This species is listed as Endangered as there is a rapid ongoing population decline due to over-exploitation for the cagebird trade following the surge in popularity of leafbirds, with the entire population of this already scarce species judged to be accessible to trappers and reported extirpation at multiple sites throughout the range. Expert judgment has assessed that the rate of this decline is suspected to have exceeded 50% within the past ten years and, in the absence of any expectation of a reduction in market demand or restriction on trapping activity, is expected to continue at this very rapid rate.

Population justification
The population size is unknown, but the species has been considered rare for some time (Wells 2016). More recently it has been only infrequently observed at sites where it was easy to see in the recent past (Eaton in litt. 2016), or indeed has completely disappeared (S. van Balen in litt. 2019).

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be undergoing a very rapid decline owing to capture for the cage bird trade, which may be exacerbated by past habitat loss greatly reducing the area of suitable habitat. The entire range is considered accessible to trappers and the species is assessed as being in high demand for the cagebird trade (Symes et al. 2018). Leafbird species experienced a surge in popularity as cagebirds after 2012, with all species becoming more desirable and numbers being sold increasing rapidly. Initial reports from repeated visits to sites where the species was commonly seen in the late 1990s are that the species has disappeared or is now very scarce (B. van Balen in litt. 2019). Expert opinion from the IUCN SSC Asian Songbird Trade Specialist Group (ASTSG in litt. 2018) considers that the current suspected rate of decline in the species exceeds 50% and, in the absence of any expectation of a reduction in market demand or restriction on trapping activity, is expected to continue at this very rapid rate.

Distribution and population

This species is endemic to the island of Java, Indonesia. It occurs in a number of protected areas, and is considered uncommon, but may still be locally common (Eaton et al. 2016) though this is likely to be true at very few sites. Elimination of the majority of lowland forest throughout Java is likely to have reduced the historic population to a low level, and left the remnants in scattered populations. However the increase in popularity of leafbirds in the Javan cagebird trade is being reported to have led to the loss of the species in a high proportion of these areas in recent times. The actual number of occupied sites is unknown, but there appear to be only five or six areas where the species persists in Java, and in the majority of these remaining forest is at above the species's understood elevational limits: not a single individual was recorded during avifaunal surveys of three volcanos in 2013 (Mittermeier et al. 2014). Most of these areas are protected, but there are numerous reports that trapping within boundaries occurs in at least some.


This species favours humid forest edge and secondary growth, and is also found in evergreen and semi-evergreen lowland forest, peatswamp-forest, well-grown secondary forest and nearby mixed orchards, from the lowland plains to 1,800 m (Wells 2005, 2016).


Leafbirds have been a moderately popular cage bird for many years, but recently Greater Green Leafbird has become exceptionally sought-after, prompting other Chloropsis species to be traded in increasing numbers (Chng et al. 2015, 2017, Eaton et al. 2015, B. van Balen in litt. 2016). This is a primarily lowland species is at high risk from severe over-exploitation: the the entire range is accessible to trappers (Symes et al. 2018). The reports of the loss of the species from sites recently occupied, in which habitat remains unchanged clearly demonstrate that the present trapping pressure in unsustainable and is driving rapid declines in the species (B. van Balen in litt. 2019). Symes et al. (2018) found no loss of habitat in the species's range from 2000-2015.

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions in Place

The species occurs in some protected areas, but they are not enforced and the species continues to be trapped at these sites. The species has been added to the list of protected species in Indonesia, making trade in the species illegal without a quota. 

Research Actions Needed

Robust investigations of the current population densities at sites where previous surveys were carried out in the late 20th century are needed to quantify the rate of decline and provide a baseline for future monitoring. Repeat surveys from forest blocks with bird density/encounter rate information from previous work, e.g. van Balen (1999). A common bird monitoring approach is needed for long-term trend data for widespread Javan species. Continuing monitoring of a sample of large bird markets on Java; numbers, price and attitudes of sellers. Investigate the opportunity cost of trapping versus supplying captive-bred birds. Assess deforestation rates annually.

Conservation Actions Needed

Enforcement of the laws regarding trading in wild-caught birds is of utmost importance for the entire set of species that are supplied to the trade from the wild. Enforcement of protected species status, and of provincial quotas, should they be introduced, will be essential. Lobby for bird competitions to restrict entry to captive-sourced birds and to instigate an industry code of conduct to prevent harm to wild populations. Management of protected areas should include management of trapping activities. Petition for adding the species to CITES appendix II.


c. 17cm. A medium-sized green leafbird with a subtle turquoise wing panel. The male has a restricted black mask extending to the throat and bordered by a smudge of golden yellow except on the crown, and an intense deep blue jawline flash. The female lacks the mask and the yellowish suffusion is restricted to the underparts.


Text account compilers
Martin, R.

Chng, S., Eaton, J. & van Balen, B.S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Chloropsis cochinchinensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/09/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 28/09/2020.