ALOR GAJAH, Jan 7 -- The Tanjung Tuan Forest Reserve here should be conserved and preserved for the migration of predatory birds so that the survival of the bird population, also known as raptors can be maintained in balancing the ecosystem.
Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) president Prof Dr Ahmad Ismail said the migration of birds of prey across the Straits Of Melaka from Sumatra in Indonesia to Tanjung Tuan in Melaka as far as 38 kilometres (km) occurs only once a year between January and April, while the peak period to watch the birds crossing the Straits was in March.
“Each year, tens of thousands of raptors migrate across the Straits of Melaka to return to the Northern Hemisphere over 10,000 km to Japan and Korea to continue their breeding and the bird movement is aided by the winds from the west or southwest.
“As these birds have heavy bodies, they glide through the air conserving energy across the Straits of Melaka by minimising fluttering their wings which requires a lot of energy, hence their path should be maintained to avoid obstructing their migratory routes,” he told Bernama at the Tanjung Tuan Recreational Forest here.
The migration of the birds is very important because raptors which are increasingly threatened with extinction are very influential in environmental balance as they are at the top of the food chain as well as a benchmark for environmental quality.
Tanjung Tuan formerly known as Cape Rachado is actually part of Melaka state. It is an important stop over site for migratory raptors after crossing the Melaka Straits.
“Tanjung Tuan’s uniqueness is that it is the only coastal forest on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia gazetted as a Forest Reserve, Wildlife Reserve, a fisheries prohibited area and a historic site,” he said.
He added that according to the http://www.birdlife.org/ site, Tanjung Tuan, which covers about 60 hectares, is also listed as one of the 55 Important Birds Areas (IBA) in Malaysia.
“IBA is an important biodiversity conservation site that uses birds as the key indicator to determine the level of environmental health,” said Ahmad, who is also a lecturer in Ecotoxicology and Wildlife Ecology, Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Universiti Putra Malaysia.
He said to raise awareness of the need to protect these birds and their habitat, MNS has since 1999 been organising ‘Raptor Watch’ in Tanjung Tuan and this year the programme is expected to be held for two days in March.
He said the Raptor Watch programme, which is entering its 21st season, is not only for the education and entertainment of students, but also for the benefit of the tourism sector as it has attracted international tourists including from Japan, Korea, China and Singapore.
“The strategic location to observe the migration of the birds of prey across the Straits of Melaka is at the Tanjung Tuan Lighthouse and PNB Ilham Resort. The migration of the predatory birds will provide a stunning view of the Tanjung Tuan Forest Reserve,” said Ahmad who is also a council member of the Academy of Sciences Malaysia.