Ioras provide humans with a natural form of insect control. Leafbirds pollinate flowering trees, and spread the seeds of the parasitic oriental mistletoe between trees.
Leafbirds are well-represented in art, with the Chinese depicting them since at least the fifteenth century. Many other varieties of this family have been prized as well for their beauty and were shipped commercially in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Before World War II, India was the largest supplier of these birds. By the 1950s and 1960s, Thailand, and then Indonesia were major sources. By the 1990s, China exported them until a ban was imposed on caged birds in 2001. Indonesia then played the key role in their export. Their tendency to fight with other birds has made them unsuitable for mixed groups of species.
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