Thursday, August 13

Bird race highlight of nature festival

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PANORAMIC VIEW: The Penrissen Highlands has been recognised as one of the 55 important birds areas in Malaysia.

KUCHING: The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Kuching branch and Borneo Highlands Resort will be holding the Sarawak Nature Festival 2012 (SNF) at the resort on the weekend of Sept 29.

According to a press statement, the highlight of this festival will be the Sarawak Bird Race 2012, which will be flagged off at 2pm from the Borneo Highlands Resort Clubhouse. The race will come to a close 22 hours later at noon on Sunday.

Apart from the bird race, there will also be a number of exciting nature-based, family-orientated activities during the two-day event.

On Saturday afternoon, visitors can choose to join guided nature walks or attend photography workshops, and star-gazing or a night walk in the evening, weather permitting.

Among the workshops that will be held include one by well-known Singapore-based nature photographer, educator and writer John Ariffin, who has travelled across Asia to document wildlife and cultures of Asia in search of a perfect moment to freeze in time.

On Sunday participants can learn to make hand cream from natural ingredients, join guided walks and attend more workshops. In addition, there will also be activities aimed at the junior members.

Recognised as an Important Bird Area in 2010 and one of the 55 Important Birds Areas in Malaysia, the Penrissen Highlands host several endemic and endangered species.

Sightings of eight of the endemic Bornean species have been documented at the Borneo Highlands Resort include exciting species such Bornean Barbet (Megalaima exima), Blue-banded Pitta (Pitta arquata) as well endangered trophy species such as the Black Hornbill (Anthracoceros albirostris).

The recognition of these areas have many benefits beyond birds, however, bird population, including species diversity and numbers, are an indicator of an area’s ecological health. Society benefits as these wild or semi-wild areas can act rich ecological niches in the species poor environments created by man, plus they can play important roles in the natural cycles, for example, water, carbon and nitrogen.

MNS organising chairman Vincent Wong believes that understanding and appreciating nature is understanding and appreciating ourselves.

“Without nature we all wither. Save them to save ourselves and our children. The Sarawak Nature Festival and Bird Race provide a venue to develop this appreciation. Furthermore, our existence, despite our ability to moderate microenvironments of homes and other buildings, is dependant on nature and we should not forget this,” he said.

Meanwhile, in the lead up to SNF, there will be an introduction to the fest on Sept 22 (Saturday) at the Sarawak Tourism Complex, where visitors will have the opportunity to learn more about birds and the festival.

For more information, go to the website at birdrace2012.borneohighlands.com.my or Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/sarawakbirdrace. Special rates at the Borneo Highlands Resort are available for participants, but book early.