Religion holds key to conservation

A major key in the Friends of the National Parks Foundation’s Bali Starling and Nusa Penida bird sanctuary success is its decision to work with the Hindu concept of Tri Hita Kerena – the acknowledgement of the intrinsic unity between God, the natural world and mankind’s place in that world.

Prior to all bird releases on Nusa Penida, 14 kilometers southeast of Bali, prayers to the Hindu gods are made to protect the birds and recognise their right to safety and protection.

With Sunday’s release of 100 Java Sparrows verging on extinction in their home range of Bali and Java, hundreds of Penida villagers and off-island guests joined together at the local temple to pray for the bird’s safe release.

There was silence across the sun-drenched inner sanctum of the temple as communal prayers were offered; breaking this silence just the tinkle of the priest’s bell and the chirruping of several birds in the great trees surrounding this holy place.

In Nusa Penida, there is a deep devotion to the natural world. Here is living embodiment of Tri Hita Kerena, the triumvirate of God, mankind and the natural world.

Flowers and incense are offered up to the Gods as holy water is sprinkled over Hindu and non-Hindu alike, all as one, like the villages of the island itself, coming together to bid these tiny birds well on this, their flight to freedom.

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