The Jakarta Post
Hundreds of people crowded the Jatinegara Bird Market in East Jakarta one afternoon over the weekend to buy pets or casually stroll around while looking at the birds and other animals.
Reno Arfan, 27, said he had come from Bekasi, West Java, with his friends to find an affordable local canary for his father. He said he had heard the market had a wide variety of birds at an affordable price.
'We found a beautiful gold canary for Rp 250,000 (US$19) from a vendor there,' he told The Jakarta Post, pointing to a vendor on the curb of a densely packed road.
Best known for its birds, the market also has various cats, fish, monkeys and other animals, which come from regions across the archipelago. Some of the vendors focus on selling just cages or animal feed rather than animals. Just a few kilometers from Jatinegara, a similar market can be found on Jl. Pramuka, also in East Jakarta.
For some people, the market is a sad sight, as many of the animals are not treated with respect.
Anyone visiting the market can see animals crammed together in small cages, leaving them very little space to move, and cats or rabbits exhausted from being locked in a cage that sits out in the scorching sun.
Jaka, a vendor who sells flying squirrels, gripped one of his animal's tails and twirled it around to attract customers. He said anyone could bring home a flying squirrel for only Rp 400,000 and that the price was 'very negotiable'.
'Flying squirrel for your children to play with. Flying squirrel, flying squirrel,' Jaka shouted above the noise of the tightly packed market.
Tanti, one visitor, said she was shocked by what she saw, which she described as animal cruelty.
'Just look at their [the animals'] faces, they look so stressed,' she said quietly.
Located near the Jatinegara traditional market, congestion in front of the bird market is inevitable as cars and motorcycles are illegally parked on the side of the road, leaving other motorists to slowly inch forward through the obstacle course.
The Jatinegara Bird Market is known among Jakartans as a safe haven for illegally trading endangered animals, an illicit economy under the protection of local thugs. Endangered species, including cuscuses, tiger cubs and Javan hawk-eagles, are displayed in broad daylight in the market, which is located less than 500 meters from the East Jakarta Police headquarters.
One animal vendor, who wished to remain anonymous, said currently wildlife traders were 'lying low' following the recent arrest of a man who tried to make a shipment from Surabaya, East Java.
On Monday, the police foiled an attempt to smuggle nearly two dozen yellow-crested cockatoos and green parrots. The police found the birds peering out of bottles that they had been squeezed into.
'I know people who illegally sell cuscus and other endangered animals in this market, who are now hiding to avoid attention after the foiled smuggling attempt. But I am sure they will be back in no time,' said the anonymous vendor.
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