By CHITRA S. NATHAN
THE STAR - MALAYSIA
Site safeguarded for migratory raptors
THE thousands of raptors from the northern
hemisphere which make their annual pilgrimage here will always
be assured of a place to call home as the Negri Sembilan government
is committed to safeguarding the stopover site for the migratory
birds at Tanjung Tuan near Port Dickson.
State tourism, unity, culture, arts and Malay
heritage committee chairman Datuk Mohamad Razi Kail said the
conservation of its natural wonders would not be compromised
for the sake of development.
Taking flight: An oriental honey buzzard.
“Our state has plenty to offer with
beautiful beaches, mountains and waterfalls to explore.
“We will ensure that eco-tourism spots
will be protected and not be sacrificed to development,”
he said after the launch of Raptor Watch (RW) at the PNB Ilham
Resort, Tanjung Tuan near Port Dickson recently.
Mohamad said RW was an example of the state’s
eco-tourism potential as it attracted a large number of both
domestic and foreign visitors.
“It is important to protect this piece
of coastal rainforest which is a refuge for migratory birds.
“Conservation does not know borders...
it is our collective responsibility to ensure that amazing
natural wonders like this remain for generations to come,”
Mohamad expressed his gratitude to the Malaysian
Nature Society (MNS), corporate sponsors and hoteliers in
the area who worked together to ensure the success of RW,
which is in its 12th year.
“Tanjung Tuan has been a stopover site
for these migratory birds who journey thousands of miles from
the northern hemisphere to the south and back.
“Awareness is key to preserve this
site and ensure the raptors keep coming back and for that
we have to be grateful to the MNS and sponsors for their efforts,”
This year’s theme ‘Come together,
forest for people and birds’ was in line with MNS’s
objective to conserve natural habitats and forest landscapes.
Look at that: Maya Karin (fourth from
left) and (from right)
Dr Maketab, main sponsor Low Ngai Yuen from Carrefour,
Negri Sembilan tourism, unity, culture, arts and Malay heritage
committee chairman Datuk Mohamad Razi Kail and some others
watching the raptors circle overhead at the
PNB Ilham Resort, Tanjung Tuan near Port Dickson
More than 20,000 raptors or birds of prey
were spotted in the skies above Tanjung Tuan since the count
began on Feb19.
Among the species of migratory raptors which
pass through Tanjung Tuan this time of year are the oriental
honey buzzard (Pernis ptilorhyncus), black baza (Aviceda leuphotes),
Japanese sparrowhawk (Accipiter gularis), Chinese goshawk
(Accipiter soloensis) and the grey-faced buzzard (Butastur
MNS president Assoc Prof Dr Maketab Mohamed
said RW had become its signature eco-tourism programme and
attracted birdwatchers from near and far.
“Besides domestic tourists and nature
lovers, this year’s event also attracted birdwatching
groups from Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore.
“RW is a platform to create awareness
on the need to protect Tanjung Tuan as a valuable natural
resource. The government and local community must work together
to conserve this site,” he said.
Tanjung Tuan, together with 54 other sites
in peninsular and east Malaysia, have been identified as key
sites for conservation of biodiversity using birds as key
indicators to gauge the health of the environment.
Hundreds of visitors — young and old
and with families in tow — attended the two-day event
for a chance to view the raptors up close.
Nature and seashore walks were also organised
to educate the public on the importance of conservation.
The carnival-like setting also included informative
exhibits, arts and craft booths for children and fun games
for the whole family to enjoy.
RW ambassador Maya Karin, who was also present,
said she was glad to be a part of the event especially since
she was passionate about the environment.
“This is my fourth year working together
with MNS for this event. It is a two-in-one project, people
get to enjoy watching the birds but they will certainly leave
knowing the importance of conserving our natural environment.
“It is an awesome experience and I
hope more Malaysians will be able to join us in future,”
Nadia Khairani Ahmad Khir Saifuddin, 17 from
SMK Bukit Baru, Malacca, said she had never heard of Raptor
Watch and was glad her school had organised a trip to the
event this year.
“It took us an hour-and-a-half to get
here but it was definitely worth it. It was an amazing thing
to see the huge birds glide across the sky.
“We learnt firsthand about the coastal
rainforest here and conservation efforts from MNS members.
It’s surprising to think that we Malaysians know little
about this event in our own backyard while so many foreign
visitors made the trip just to see the birds,” she said.
One of those foreign visitors was Filipino
Alex Tiongco, who volunteered to count the raptors at Tanjung
“The birds are spectacular and it was
worth making the trip from Manila just to see them.
“This year, I volunteered to be among
the raptor counters and it has been a truly rewarding experience,”
said the Philippines Wild Bird Club member.