Sunday, April 25, 2010

Transforming Kuala Baram Peatswamp

The ubiquitous Kuala Baram peatswamp fire, quiet, smoldering and nasty.

The area where we held our first outdoor birdwatching outing with Glenda Noramly way back in 1998 doesn't look like anything it did many year ago.

A neat-looking tract by the roadside.

The few remaining tall dead trees left standing, for now.

A tract just past the ASEAN Bridge, what was a boggy tract now transormed complete with neat, well laid out drainage networks.

WMD ... Weapons of Mass Destruction or clearing the Way for Mass Development depending on who you speak to.

Massive tracts of Kuala Baram peatswamps are undergoing rapid transformation the fast few years, more are underway from what can be observed from a short drive around the area recently.

From what can be surmissed on the ground:
-new networks of roads and highways are feverishly underway
-new residential and commercial hub dubbed "knowledge city" centered around Curtin University
-reclaimed peaty swamps for new residential areas
-drainage networks for what looks to be new plantations in addition to the existing network of already producing agricultural plots
-oil palm plantations

From Pujut 7 Bridge onwards all the way towards the Kuala Baram industrial area spanning across the ASEAN Bridge towards Kampung Masjid, the recent hive of activies by several major local companies foretell some very drastic changes in the landscape of the old "wasteland" Kuala Baram.

Borneo's Wildlife Recently Revealed

Babourula kalimantanensis, a lungless frog is one of the 123 species of species recently discovered in Borneo. The island's rich wildlife is highlighted in a recent report from conservation group WWF.

For more images of these newly discovered species, including the half metre long stick insect, Phobaeticus chani, please click this link.

The full WWF report can be accessed by following this link.

The longest insect in the world photographed at one of our own national park in Sarawak, May 2009. The greenish stick insect is a male, the female is the brownish insect resembling a stick. It's HUGE!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

This Weekends Activities in Miri

Curtin University Earth Day Celebration , Thursday, 22nd April
MNS Miri Branch and our Curtin members will be on campus.

a. MNS Booth by Curtin Geology Club, 10-4pm
Membership application, information on activities and events, books, and posters exhibition.

i) Lucky Draw for New Memberships (3 years membership onwards, new or renewal)
- 1x 40x8 Binoculars to be won, worth $300.

ii) Lucky Draw for New Memberships (1 year -2 year memberships, new or renewal)
- 10x Hip club approved new "MNS Miri T-shirts" to be won, worth $30 each.

iii)Lucky Draw for those who visit our booth
- 1 free membership for one year (Student or Individual)

Announcement of lucky draw winners will be made at the conclusion of Dr Orenstein talk, see below.

b. Introduction to Birdwatching around Campus with MNS Miri, 5-6pm
Branch birdgroup will lead a slow walk around campus to get the low down on Curtin birds.

c. Talk and Slideshow "Birds of South America" by Dr Ron Orenstein 7-8.30pm
The talk will be at LTCL 6 at ground floor, School of Business Building. Come listen and see what the enigmatic birds of the South look like. Do they have hornbills in South America?

Announcement of lucky draw winners at the end of the talk. Refreshments will be served, bring friends. All are welcomed.

Easy Birdwatching at Kuala Baram/Kpg Masjid, 24th OR 25th April (to be confirmed)
Join us for a couple of hours leisurely birdwatching with Dr Orenstein in and around Kuala Baram and Kpg Masjid to see Wandering Whistling Ducks, White-bellied Sea Eagle, Grey-headed Fish Eagle, Oriental Darter, Peregrine Falcon and other waterbirds or waders.

Early start! Meet at Curtin Gate 0700hrs

Lambir Hills Trek with Sara, 25th April

Join Sara and crew for another happening trek into Lambir.

Meet at Taman Awam or Lambir Hills NP Canten at 7:30hrs or 8:00hrs respectively.

Monday, April 19, 2010

MNS Miri Branch April Updates and News

A juvvy Yellow-bellied Prinia by the roadside in Kuala Baram.

Dear Valued Members,

We have not given up on the questions posed to the greater membership wrt potential new activities for the membership and surrounding community. We are still open to any brilliant suggestions from all and sundry.

We'd like to hear from everyone. If you have a brilliant idea, please email us.

February saw us losing a big chunk of our membership base, 22 out of 90 members: some relocated to better prospects, some off to better things and others are simply too busy or just procrastinating.

Much oblige to members who took time to renew and continue their support for the Society.We started off with 35 members mid 2007 and veritably had 92 members mid January. Looks like we are not going to break that 100 barrier anytime soon, especially if at the same time we have non-renewals.

People, please take time to renew your membership, infect (in a good way) your friends with MNS. A perfect way to expose more people, family friends,and your immediate community to what we do as a Society. The more, the merrier, the better.

A warm welcome to our latest new members : Nurdiyana, Allison, and Christine.

Don't forget those brilliant suggestions and what activities you'd be partial to volunteer for and would like to see offered by MNS Miri Branch.


1. "Introduction to MNS" and "Wildlife in Rural Sarawak" at Curtin, 11th March

Approximately 30 students and educators attended this segment at Curtin University. We still have folks who've never heard of "Malaysian Nature Society" and fielded questions such as "Where is Lambir?". It clearly shows the extent of our presence within our own community. More work ahead!

2. Raptor Watch, 13-14th March
Those who have not seen soaring 20,000-30,000 raptors are encourage to attend next years watch. Pleasant set-up at PNB Ilham Resort with endless list of activities for all ages. Hutan Simpan Tanjung Tuan is just next door. If we want to be closer to the raptors, you can walk up to the light house at the edge of a cliff for closer views of our magnificent Raptors.

Please check for detailed accounts of Raptor Watch 2010.

3. Nitewalk to Lambir Hills NP 20th March
With Kamil's (Lambir Park Warden) help we located several perfect tarantula's nest that we'll be monitoring regularly. We added an adult Banded Krait, our first, to our Lambir creepie crawlies list.

Check out the pictures here:

4. Lambir Summit Trail Maintenance (overnite) 21st March
Sara spent one nite at a seldom visited segment of the Lambir Summit. Tranquil surroundings, Bornean Gibbons were heard in the mornings. We are waiting for Sara to get that urge to share her awesome experience with us homies.

5. Lambir Treks Series (every weekend)
Sara and Peter ticked Bornean Bristlehead, Red-bearded Bee eater and Siberian Blue Robin on their recent treks. BBH is more often heard than seen. Mr Tan was last to see the them from our records.

Check-out BBH:

7. Sg Sibuti Boat Traverse for Fireflies and Birds 10-11th April
It was simply great fun ... thousands of fireflies and quite a few crocodiles and birds!


8. Trek/Birdwatch/Camp Similajau NP 16-18th April
Completed, waiting for update from those that went!

9. Bkt Teraja HOB Survey with PNHS 17-18th April
No one from MNS Miri participated.

10 . Council Meeting in KL 17th April
Nazeri attended.


1. Branch Committee Meeting, KRP 20th April
Branch EXCO (required) and Co-opted Committee are invited to attend this meeting at KRP 6-8pm.

2. NREB Workshop on SCORE, 22nd April in Bintulu
ate changed from March to April. Regrettably no one from both Kuching and Miri Branches are able to attend.

3. Curtin University Events, 22nd April
a. MNS Booth 10-4pm
Books, posters exhibition.
i) Lucky Draw for New Memberships (3 years membership onwards) - 1x 40x8 Savvy binoculars to be won, worth $300.
ii) Lucky Draw for New Memberships (1 year -2 year membership) - 10x "MNS Miri T-shirts" to be won, worth $30 each.
iii)Lucky Draw for those who visit our booth - 1x Year student membership
Announcement of winners will be made at the conclusion of Dr Orenstein talk, see below.
b. Introduction to Birdwatching around Campus with MNS Miri 5-6pm
c. Talk and Slideshow "Birds of South America" by Dr Ron Orenstein 7-8.30pm
Curtin Sarawak is LTCL 6 at ground floor, School of Business Building
Announcement of lucky draw winners. Refreshments will be served, bring friends.

Members and friends are welcomed.

4. Lambir Trek Series April
Please contact Sara for timing and details, this normally takes place on Saturday morning.

5. World Migratory Bird Day 2010 8-9th May, Pustaka Miri
We are flying in Khoo Swee Seng, uber birdwatcher from MNS Selangor BirdGroup, to talk to us about migrating raptors and lead a couple of fieldtrips near Miri. WMBD 2010 marked our 3rd year celebrating WMBD. This year we will be taking participants to Kuala Baram in conjunction with MNS 70th Year Anniversary.

08th May:
0700-1000hrs Birdwatching at Lambir Hills National Park Innoue Trail
1400-1600hrs Talk and Slideshow at Pustaka Miri "Migrating Raptors" and MY Garden Birdwatch
1800-1930hrs Evening Birdwatching either at Bukit Song or Marudi Road Access.

09th May:
0700-0730hrs Meet at Pustaka Miri Parking lot for a fieldtrip to Kuala Baram Peatswamps
0730-1100hrs We will be birdwatching with Swee Seng in Kuala Baram looking for raptors and your typical grasslands birds.

We are providing a complimentary 38 seater air-conditioned bus to transport participants to and from Kuala Baram on the 09th. Please register early.

Checkout our MNS Miri Facebook Events for details.

6. Kinabalu Triple 14-16th May Kinabalu National Park
As aprt of our MNS 70th Anniversary Event celebration, MNS Miri and Sabah Branch with be at KNP weekend of 14th May for another series of activities for members and surrounding local community.

A. Mount Kinabalu Climb Arriving 14th May
This slot is booked. Sara will be leading a team of climbers to the peak.

B. Birdwatching with Students at KNP (extended WMBD 2010)
Sabah and Miri Branch birders will be taking 40 local students around the park to introduce them to a few endemics.

C. Astronomy with designated Kundasang School 15-16th May
We have selected a school in Kundasang for a full day Astronomy program involving Stargazing, Water-rocket building and launching. Members interested to participate and join in the fun are encouraged to book flights to KK ASAP.

Accomodations arrangement if needed will be taken care of by our contact in KK.

Check out MNS Miri Facebook Events for more detailed program.
7. SFC Conservation Education Program
Volunteers needed, please checkout schedules here if you are an MNS member and would like to actively contribute to the programs and activities for 2010.

8. [Postphone to July] Batek Workshop with Malek Adenan
A repeat of a half day program making batek prints with Malek Adenan, our resident batek artist and member.

9. Advance announcement :

a) Trek/Birdwatch Gunung Murud 18-23rd October 2010
This trip is confirmed, final costing is being finalised. Fly Bakelalan, trek Mt Murud, fly Miri via Lawas. Opportunity for extended birdwatching at Church camp for those who suffer from fear of heights (like Nazeri). We will be hiring guides and porters as required.

b) Trek/Birdwatch Nepal April/May 2011
Details can be viewed at MNS Miri Events on Facebook. Further details will be shared with members once Air Asia published their cheaprates for 2011. Expected costs MYR$4000.



1. A big THANK YOU to members who've taken the time to renew their membership.
Those who havent, please do so at your earliest convenience. Please contact us if you require assistance or more information on how to renew your membership painlessly and hassle free.

You can now bank in to either Maybank (Account No: 012138304679) or HSBC (Account No: 305194920108) beneficiary name "Malaysian Nature Society".

Please email notifications to

Members whose membership expires 31st Dec, and have not renewed:
Samantha Kwan

Membership of the following members expired 31st Jan, and have not renewed:
Jeit Law, Rebecca Pek

Members whose membership expires 28th Feb, and have not renewed:
Chia Lee Ming, Josephine
Kiew Siew Eng (no email)
Lim Geok Hoon (no email)
Mohammad Hatta Rizal Mansor
Tan Kok Khian
Tisha-Lin Sinnathamboo
Wong Chung

Members whose membership expires 30th April:
Chris Haneveld
Malek Adenan
Mieke Kosters
Rosaria Liong

Please take time to renew your membership, your Society needs your support.
2. Please keep updated with Branch activities via our blog and Facebook
Do keep abreast with weekly activities via our blogspot especially for those quick events, they normally crystalize by Thursday latest. Go to .

For Facebook, please search for "MNS Miri".

We need writers and pictures for our blogs, Pencinta Alam, Malaysian Naturalists ... contributors area welcomed. If you think you are not great at writing, just jot something down anyway, we've got folks who can help you put out a nice story for the blog. If you have articles, write-ups and pictures to share, please email

They can be uploaded in any of one these blogs :

Thank you and kindest regards,
Nazeri Abghani

on behalf of MNS Miri Branch Committee

Saturday, April 17, 2010

No deforestation in Asia, forest is actually growing!

FAO and WWF: birds of a feather promote “planted forests” together

According to the FAO, halting deforestation is neither a political nor a social nor an environmental issue: it is just a matter of definitions.

As evidence of the above, the FAO has just released a report (1) which proves that we and many others have been absolutely wrong: deforestation in Asia is not only not happening; forests have actually expanded during the last decade! The report says: “Asia, which had a net loss in the 1990s, reported a net gain of forest in the period 2000–2010”. Hallelujah!

How did this miracle happen? Well, in the first place it is not a miracle (it’s a fraud) and in the second place it did not happen (it’s a lie). As the FAO report adds, the “net gain of forest” was “primarily due to the large-scale afforestation reported by China”. That means that those plantations “reported by China” -defined by FAO as “forests”- can counter the “continued high rates of net loss in many countries in South and Southeast Asia.”

As stated above, it’s just a matter of definitions. According to FAO’s “expertise”, any area covered by trees is a “forest”. Which means that if forests are destroyed –as they certainly have been- in Indonesia, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, India, etc.- the Asian forest area will not have changed if a similar area has been planted with tree monocultures in another Asian country: in this case China.

But the issue is not restricted to Asia. FAO states that “Large-scale planting of trees is significantly reducing the net loss of forest area globally.” “The net change in forest area in the period 2000–2010 is estimated at –5.2 million hectares per year (an area about the size of Costa Rica), down from –8.3 million hectares per year in the period 1990–2000.”

Under this fraudulent approach, all the world’s forests can be destroyed and substituted by monoculture tree plantations (eucalyptus, pines, acacias, oil palm, rubber) and the “net forest area” will not have changed. As a result, the FAO will eventually be able to announce the good news that deforestation has been stopped!

Given the increasing number of people and organizations challenging FAO’s unscientific “forest” definition and the growing opposition to large-scale monoculture tree plantations, another organization has stepped in to provide support to both FAO and plantation companies: the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

This move comes as no surprise given the role played by WWF in corporate-friendly processes such as the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil, the Roundtable on Responsible Soy, Sustainable Aquaculture and in the certification of monoculture tree plantations under the Forest Stewardship Council.

While it is difficult to see how the wildlife that WWF is supposed to be protecting – headed by the charismatic panda bear it uses as logo- may benefit from monoculture tree plantations, the fact is that WWF is leading and coordinating a process called the “New Generation Plantations Project” (2, 3). Participants in the project are well known plantation companies, including Forestal Oriental (Finnish UPM/Kymmene subsidiary in Uruguay), Mondi (South Africa), Portucel (Portugal), Smurfit Kappa Carton de Colombia (Irish-Dutch company operating in Colombia), Stora Enso (Finnish-Swedish), UPM Kymmene (Finland), as well as the Sabah Forest Department (Malaysia), the State Forest Administration of China and the UK Forestry Commission.

What WWF is actually doing is to promote the expansion of tree monocultures and helping to greenwash the long –and well documented- history of past and present destructive activities of the companies and organizations involved in this project. At the same time, it is assisting the beleaguered FAO by continuing to define tree plantations as “planted forests”, thereby weakening the growing civil society demand for changing a definition that has so much served plantation companies for obscuring the true and negative nature of these monocultures.

Legend has it that the Italian mathematician, physicist and philosopher Galileo Galilei muttered the phrase “Eppur si muove” meaning “And yet it moves” after being forced to recant in 1633, before the Inquisition, his belief that the Earth moves around the Sun. In a similar vein, we hope that some serious FAO officials and honest WWF activists will be heard muttering: “And yet plantations are not forests”.


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

SFC Miri Conservation Education Programs 2010

Birdwatching with children from SK Kpg Tengah, Bekenu during WBMD 2009.

MNS Miri Branch, represented by Musa and Nazeri, came back from a meeting 08th April with SFC on Conservation Education Programs with key staff from SFC Miri consisting of SFC Conservation Education Unit, Totally Protected Area Unit and PIC of National Parks under the jurisdiction of SFC Miri Regional Office.

A representative from NREB Miri, several SFC new staff and key KMA SFC representative were also present.

The meeting was held with the objective of firming up programs for the year as well as to invite participation from MNS Miri and NREB. As per previous years these programs are aimed at increasing awareness of the community with regards to the aspirations of National Parks, it rules and regulations as well as highlight the roles of the respective parks.

This is also seen as an opportunity to engage the communities who are direct neighbours to the National Parks.

Tentative programs for 2010 in various locations:
4-5th May
Evening Community Awareness Program with Kpg Kuala Sibuti with Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary, coordinated by Remli Adenan, PIC Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary

8-9th May
SFC Nature Education Program at Niah Caves National Park, coordinated by Haidar Ali, PIC Niah Caves NP

22-23rd May
Weekend Program with Schools Loagan Bunut National Park, coordinated by Shirley Naning, PIC Loagan Bunut NP

26-27th Jun
Weekend Program with Bekenu Schools with Lambir Hills National Park, coordinated by Kamal Abdullah, PIC Lambir Hills NP

31st Jul-3rd Aug
Evening Community Awareness Program with Lambir Hills National Park, coordinated by Kamal Abdullah, PIC Lambir Hills NP

20-26th Sep
Community Awareness Programs in Limbang with Mulu National Park, Nurashikin Ikhwan, PIC Mulu NP

02nd Oct
School Program at SMK Bekenu with Niah Caves National Park, coordinated by Haidar Ali, PIC Niah Caves NP

MNS Miri Branch members are invited to participate in any of the above programs. Though transport is not provided, car-pooling are available for selected locations.

MNS Miri members are encouraged to participate in any reasonable capacity to help increase awareness of community involved in in relation to conservation and our natural heritage. It is also a great opportunity to get on the ground and be directly engaged with the community.

Please email us at mnsmiri at yahoo dot com for more details on these programs.