A new medium for Kukila


[reproduced from the Editorial to Volume 15]

This is the first online issue of Kukila, and its publication marks yet another stage in the somewhat eclectic history of the journal. Kukila began its life in 1975 as an essentially avicultural journal, published under the auspices of the Indonesian Ornithological Society (IOS). Although Volume 1 comprised three issues, many years passed before the journal was resurrected in 1985, by which time Volume 1 was out of print. The next three volumes (Vols. 2-5, each comprising two to four issues) were printed as supplements to Voice of Nature, a nature conservation magazine published monthly by Yayasan Indonesia Hijau (Green Indonesia Foundation). Under the strong co-editorship of Derek Holmes and Prof Somadikarta, Kukila quickly established itself as the first regional ornithological journal in Southeast Asia, with an international reputation as the leading source of up-to-date information on Indonesian birds. The IOS took full control of the journal again in 1992, and Volume 6 saw the inclusion of three assistant editors (Paul Andrew, Bas van Balen and David Bishop), as well as an Advisory Board and two Production editors.

Kukila was published annually up to and including 2000 (Vol. 11), the year in which Derek Holmes tragically died. Having lost its senior editor, and a major contributor, the journal went into “limbo” as if mourning the loss of one of Indonesia’s most productive ornithologists and a formidable champion of conservation. Kukila was about to enter its next stage of development, involving a major change in appearance and format. Yet it took fully three years to prepare Volume 12 (2003). In 2004 ownership of the journal was officially transferred by Dr Made Sri Prana (Chairman, IOS) to the newly-fledged Indonesian Ornithologists Union (IdOU), but sadly, the next two volumes (13 and 14) were just as slow at fledging (2006 and 2009, respectively) as the previous volume, largely due to the excessive work commitments of the current editors. This irregularity in production undoubtedly reduced confidence in Kukila among readers and potential contributors.

Through the last decade, a major problem with publishing Kukila has been the costs of publication and distribution. During the editorial reign of Derek Holmes, non-government institutions had borne these costs, chief among them BirdLife International, to which Kukila owes a debt of gratitude. Publication of volumes 12 and 13 was made possible through the generous financial support of the Gibbon Foundation and Mr Joost Brouwer. The current editors are also very grateful to the Oriental Bird Club for donating the proceeds of UK sales of Kukila, which contributed significantly to the publication of Volume 14.

Given that Kukila had become a financial burden on the limited resources of its sponsors and IdOU, it was decided early in 2011 that Volume 15 should be published online, thereby avoiding printing costs. Although doubtless some will bemoan the loss of a printed journal, the editors believe that online publication will make the journal more accessible to more ornithologists both within and outside Indonesia. Moreover we are committed to making Kukila an annual bulletin again - just as it was in its heyday, with Derek at the helm. This may entail a decrease in the number of pages in future issues, but we believe that annual publication will increase confidence in the journal and hopefully the rate of manuscript submission.

Kukila is currently written in English, with only summaries (ringkasan) in Bahasa Indonesia. This linguistic restriction has effectively discouraged Indonesian ornithologists and birdwatchers from submitting manuscripts, despite the wealth of university theses written in Bahasa Indonesia that would make useful contributions to Kukila. Consequently, the overwhelming majority of articles published to date have come from English-speaking ornithologists and birdwatchers and, despite the explicit policy of the Kukila editorial board and IdOU of encouraging Indonesian ornithologists to contribute manuscripts for publication (see my editorial, volume 13), relatively few papers written by Indonesian ornithologists have been received to date. One solution is to make Kukila bilingual, and with a growing list of volunteer translators, it is hoped that future issues of Kukila will have both English and Indonesian versions.


Richard Noske

Chief Editor, Kukila, June 2011