No More Birds

Birds returning to nest at Pucung Island at 6:00 PM. Photo taken in June 2010.

The Kinta Nature Park, which the Perak Government recently approved to protect,  is in dire danger of losing its main attraction, birds.

A concerned nature enthusiast alerted Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) members in early August screaming “what can we do only 20 birds at 5.30pm but plenty fishermen casting huge nets, and no sign of any guard” and supported his claim with photos of fishermen in the pond.

MNS vice-chairman Mr Lee Ping Kong, subsequently went to the park and verified that indeed there were people destroying the birds’ nests and chasing away the birds adding that “there were very few birds left.”

MNS monitored the park for a week. Its report stated that there was a sharp reduction in the bird population, bird nests went missing and the birds are not returning to nest after 5pm. “Basing on this report, things are not looking good,” Lee said.

The Kinta Nature Park located 6 km south of Batu Gajah. It covers 900 hectares of ex-mining land between the Kinta River on the west and the railway track to the east.
One of the ponds, Lake Pucung is over 41 ha wide. This is where the visitor’s area and observation tower can be found overlooking Pucung Island, the largest heronry in the country where five major families of herons and egrets have made it a permanent home. Almost 60% of the birds here are listed as totally protected or protected under the Protection of Wild Life Act 1976.

Pucung Island is the island that Lee had referred to where the “people” were destroying the nests. Lee had reported earlier that the bird population a year ago numbered 3,000.
Encik Ahmad Kamarulzaman, Kampar District Officer, under whose jurisdiction lies the park, stated that his office had made a police report early August adding that most of the ‘work was committed at night by naughty boys”. Regarding enforcement of the area Ahmad said that his office was now “discussing how to do the enforcement”
It is ironic that end of July State Tourism Chairman, Dato’ Hamidah Osman had stated that Kinta Nature Park “especially the Heronry, which is a natural heritage, must be protected otherwise it will become extinct”.  She made the statement while following a team of enforcement officers from Kampar and Batu Gajah District Office as well as the Land and Mines Department to remove a barbed wire fence around Pucung Lake.

Sadly a month later, MNS is reporting a “sharp reduction” of the bird population. Their worst fears are being played out. The park no doubt will become a reality. However it will be without its main attraction, the Heronry on Pucung Island.


1 thought on “No More Birds


    Last month, Perak State Tourism Chairman Hamidah Osman promised that the Perak government would protect one of Malaysia’s largest bird sanctuaries, the Kinta Nature Park.

    This park houses the largest heronry, with at least five breeding types of 2,000 water birds. Of these, 60% are protected under the Protection of Wildlife Act 1976.

    In addition, mammals like otters, and civet cats (musang), 80 species of flora and fauna, and the endangered orchid Vanda Hookeriana, live there.

    However, illegal activities like sand mining, commercial fishing, fish harvesting and duck farming are causing a decline in the bird population.

    The authorities seem oblivious of the large scale commercial exploitation even though nearby residents and park visitors are aware of their presence. Why is the enforcement so poor?

    Without the government’s support, the work of the Malaysian Nature Society and Kinta Heritage will be wasted. Soon, even tourist operators and concerned individuals will stay away.

    Perak is fortunate to have this wildlife treasure which is also an educational, recreational and potential tourist attraction for those interested in protecting birds and the environment.

    The future of our planet depends on how we manage our activities on earth. Climate change, the spread of urban areas, agricultural requirements, transport needs and commercial activities all affect the bird population, which in turn reflects the health of our planet.

    Ten years ago, the Perak government said it would gazette this area a natural park.

    However, the state appears to be dragging its feet and we are still awaiting this decision.

    Commercial activities are accelerating at a pace that will destroy the park’s attractive features.

    There is little point in Hamidah and the enforcement officers making a big show of cutting the barbed wire fence last month, for the benefit of the media pack.

    Her real task should be to push the decision to declare the park a designated nature reserve and request for a budget allocation to fund it.

    Perakians are frustrated with broken promises. We only need cash and commitment to protect our unique wildlife treasures.

    Mariam Mokhtar

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