Saturday, August 28, 2010


Postal Ballot Forms will be mailed to MNS members and you will needto send the form back to MNS HQ by 23 September 2010 if you are notable to attend the 63rd MNS Annual General Meeting.

Ballot forms can be delivered by hand on 25 September 2010.

Theforms must be sealed in the envelope provided by MNS. All forms must be signed by MNS members. Members must write andsign their name on the outside of the envelope provided by MNS.

Members can raise matters for discussion during the 63rd MNS AnnualGeneral Meeting by writing in to MNS Honorary Secretary, Dr CheahSwee Neo. Her email is and the letter or emailmust reach MNS by Friday, 17 September 2010.

CHECK YOUR MEMBERSHIP SUBSCRIPTIONClause 66 of MNS Rules and Regulation states that “No member shallbe entitled to vote at any meeting unless all subscription due by him/herto the Society in respect of the year in which meeting is held have beenpaid in full not less than one week prior to the meeting and he canproduce a receipt from the Society proving this fact, if his right to vote is

Borneo’s Husband-and-Wife Mountain Gods Look Down on Illegal Logging

The news that Norway has sold all of its shares in a Malaysian timber company it accuses of illegal logging has brought back memories of one of the best experiences of my life, and of a pair of sad brown eyes I wish I had not seen.

My distant cousin with the beautiful dark eyes was lonely, anxious and unnaturally thin. I felt certain that she would die a sorry death.

I had found the forlorn gibbon in a tiny cage in a logging camp in the Kelabit Highlands of Sarawak in Malaysian Borneo in September 1998. Just a few days earlier I had seen gibbons as they should be seen — swinging through the treetops — and had been lucky enough to hear them warbling and whooping their territorial calls from on high. The music they make is unforgettable.

But after nine days of walking through the pristine forest where I encountered these and many other wonders, my journey had ended with a shocking vision of the future.

I was in the highland forests on an Malaysian Nature Society expedition to record the natural history of an area that had long been proposed as a new national park. Our team included biologists and geologists and local guides who knew the forest inside-out.

Our schedule was tough and our backpacks were heavy but we still recorded 26 mammal species and 67 birds, including the endangered Sun Bear and Helmeted Hornbill, in just over a week. We found orchids and pitcher plants that exist nowhere else on Earth other than the mountain forests of Borneo.

Batu Lawi from Gunung Murud. (Image : MNS Pulong Tau Expedition)

The highlight for me was seeing the fabled twin peaks of Batu Lawi – a sandstone mountain that the local people revere as husband-and-wife gods who are the original parents and protectors of all highland people.

A couple of days after we had climbed the Batu Lawi’s female peak, I took this photo (above) from the summit of Sarawak’s highest mountain Gunung Murud. From there we could see that logging roads were already approaching Batu Lawi. Having denuded much of Sarawak’s lowlands, the timber companies were closing in on the riches that remained in this isolated area.

Our expedition report (PDF) urged the government of Sarawak to include Batu Lawi in the national park – but when Pulong Tau National Park was finally gazetted seven years later in 2005, the Kelabit gods were left on the outside, looking in. These ancient protectors were now the vulnerable ones.

As we descended towards our expedition’s end-point in the village of Ba Kelalan we saw just how well advanced the campaign to extract Batu Lawi’s timber was when we found ourselves in a logging camp. It was here that we discovered the caged gibbon.

She may have been a pet but more likely she was destined for the pot, for wherever logging companies go, their workers hunt for bush-meat. A few months later the US Wildlife Conservation Society would publish a paper in Science that conservatively estimated the wild meat trade in Sarawak to exceed 1000 metric tonnes a year. It said that in 1996 workers in just one logging camp there killed more than 1,100 animals — totalling 29 metric tons.

I saw red dusty soil of the recently cleared forest reflected in the gibbon’s haunted eyes and realised that this particular primate would never again swing through the trees. Nor would she ever again disperse the seeds of forest trees whose fruit she ate, species like the ecologically important strangler figs that I was studying elsewhere in Borneo.

The creature’s capture was both an insult and an injury to an ancient forest. Gibbons are supposed to be protected species in Sarawak but laws count for little in remote areas where there is big money to be made from natural resources.

There was nobody about to talk to about the gibbon but we saw vehicles and equipment emblazoned with the logo of the Malaysian logging giant Samling, which had been allocated the area’s logging concessions. And it is in this very area that Samling stands accused this week of “extensive and repeated” breaches of Sarawak’s state regulations.

Norway’s State Pension Fund pulled its investment out of the company after its Council on Ethics concluded in a detailed report (PDF) that Samling’s activities had contributed to “illegal logging and severe environmental damage” both in Malaysia and Guyana.

Samling Global, which operates more than 1.2 million hectares of logging concessions in each of these countries, refutes the allegations.

But the Norwegian report includes satellite imagery of the area around Batu Lawi, which the authorities in Sarawak had approved as an extension to Pulong Tau National Park in May 2008. This meant all logging there should have ceased but the red areas of the image, taken in May 2009, indicate extensive logging within the Batu Lawi reserve area (white line).

Satellite image from May 2009 showing intensive logging inside the Batu Lawi reserved area.
(Reserved area marked with white line). Logging areas are coloured red. (Image : Norway State Pension Fund)

Norway’s pension fund is one of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, so its move to withdraw its investment in Samling on environmental grounds is noteworthy. But even with 8 million kroner (US$1.25 million) in Samling shares, the NPF investment represented just 0.37% of the company’s total worth.

The Malaysia’s Star newspaper quoted a source who said: “The investment fraternity may consider the exit of NPF from Samling as no big deal given its insignificant stake, however, NPF accusations on Samling Global can to a certain extent affect the stock in the long term.”

Nongovernmental organisations such as the Bruno Manser Fund say the move will put the spotlight on logging companies that for years have been accused of infringing the rights of indigenous people.

But unless many other investors adopt the ethical stance of the Norwegian Pension Fund we can probably expect business as usual in Borneo.

Posted by mikeshanahan

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Boom in dam-building for hydropower devastates tribal peoples' lives

A dam in progress. Image by (c) Survival International 2010.

To mark the UN Day of Indigenous People, Survival International has released a new report highlighting the devastating impact on tribal people of a massive boom in dam-building for hydropower.

Drawing on examples from Asia, Africa and the Americas, Survival’s report “Serious Damage” exposes the untold cost of obtaining ‘green’ electricity from large hydroelectric dams.
A rapid increase in global dam-building is currently under way.

The World Bank alone is pouring $11bn into 211 hydropower projects worldwide.

The impact on tribal people is profound. One Amazonian tribe, the Enawene Nawe, has learnt that Brazilian authorities plan to build 29 dams on its rivers. Across the Amazon, the territories of five uncontacted tribes will be affected.

The Penan tribe in Sarawak face eviction to make way for a dam, and tribes in Ethiopia could be forced to rely on food aid if a dam being built on the famous Omo River is not halted. One man from the Omo Valley’s Kwegu tribe, said, ‘Our land has become bad. They closed the water off tight and now we know hunger. Open the dam and let the water flow.’

Hundreds of Brazilian tribespeople will gather this week to speak out about the controversial Belo Monte dam, which threatens several tribes’ land and vital food supplies.

Survival International´s report can be downloaded:

Source :
WRM Bulletin No. 157 August 2010.

This monthly Bulletin of the World Rainforest Movement is also available in French, Spanish and Portuguese. Editor: Ricardo Carrere

WRM International Secretariat
Maldonado 1858 - 11200 Montevideo - Uruguay

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Introducing the new MNS Miri 2010/2011 Committee

The recent MNS Miri AGM last month saw the appointment of both fresh and familiar faces for the new 2010/2011 EXCO.

Now that the dust has settled and our recently elected committee members have officially assumed their respective roles, let's get acquainted with them.

Faye Osman

Faye's involvement with MNS began in 2008 after her relocation to Miri from Kuala Lumpur. At the time, she had simply wanted to make new friends and fill her (almost non-existent) social calendar with activities. Little did she know, she would eventually grow fond of the unique biodiversity Sarawak has to offer. She especially loves exploring the outdoors and interacting with the locals.

Faye possesses a bachelor's degree with a double major in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics. Prior to her move to Miri, she had led the abiding life of a corporate employee. Now, she concentrates on her most challenging task yet: working on her domestic and parenting skills full time.

During her leisure, she reads fantasy novels (Brandon Sanderson is her all-time favorite author), creates art with acrylic paints and listens to podcasts.

Vice Chairperson
Anura Dason

Anura has always been involved with MNS indirectly through volunteer work since his move to Miri. He officially became a member two years ago.

Anura graduated with a bachelor's degree in Geology from the University of Malaya. He has been peering into the Borneo offshore subsurface ever since.

He enjoys traveling to meet new faces and learn about foreign culture (he hopes there will be many more adventures to come!). An epicure at heart, Anura never shies away from a good home cooked meal. His other interests include listening to music, indulging in the arts, playing bowling and watching movies.

Puteri Shariza Megat Khalid

Puteri Shariza’s initial involvement with MNS dated back in the year 2007. She officially became a member in 2009. Her first contact with nature occurred when she was a little girl who followed her late grandmother around the kampong shrubbery to gather herbs and plants. Since then, she harbored an interest in nature appreciation, preservation, and conservation.

Puteri Shariza is an IT Analyst by profession and a nature lover by passion. She holds a bachelor's degree in Information and Communication Technology, and is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Business Administration.

Her interests (other than adoring nature) are reading, cycling, and gardening.

Ernyza Endot

Ernyza has never, ever been a treasurer (even in high school)! This newly elected MNS treasurer sure has lot to learn, but welcomes the challenge of managing the branch finances with open arms. She joined MNS as part of her plan to save the world (but her ultimate world-saving-plan is, er, classified).

Ernyza holds a bachelor's and master's degree, majoring in Geomatics Engineering and Geomatics Information Systems respectively. Despite her background in Geomatics, she harbors a deep interest in Astronomy. She often gaze at the sky with her second-hand 72mm lens defragmenter telescope in her backyard, while trying to spot comets and planets.

Her other part-time interests include beach-walking, hiking, playing netball and, sometimes, being a couch potato on weekends (while racking her brains on how to save the world, of course).

Peter Pillai

Peter is a master's degree holder in Information Technology.

He (along with his partner-in-crime, Sara Wong) leads the Saturday morning hikes in Lambir Hill National Park. His main reason for hiking is because it will balance out his love for eating (and also spare his budget from buying larger clothes). Of course, hiking is a good exercise to increase cardiovascular and muscular health too.

Peter gets bored easily by hiking at the same place every weekend. He makes attempts to vary his hike locations, thus he travels extensively.

Committee Member
Musa Musbah

Musa is a trained biostatigrapher, specializing in nanoplankton. He has previously worked with Sarawak Shell Berhad for the past 35 years, in the geological services department.

He is one of the senior local Malaysian biostratigrapher that has provided quality biostratigraphc services to Development and Exploration asset of Shell. He has vast experience with databases set-up and maintenance. He also familiar with GPS and its uses.

Musa spends his free time casting his fishing rod into the nearby rivers, with the hopes of landing a big catch. Now that he is into his retirement years, he devotes much of his time to the 'Congregation Firefly Zone Survey' project, in which he acts as project executor.

Committee Member
Nur Ziana Abdullah Sani

Ziana joined MNS during her university days in Penang. She began her association with the Miri branch after her move to Sarawak.

Ziana graduated with a bachelor's degree in Zoology in 2003, and obtained her master's degree in Environment Biology in 2006 from University Science Malaysia. She currently works as a science officer with Limbang Division Health Office.

Her interest includes watching movies, reading, playing games (farmville is her favorite), listening to music, and travel.

Co-opted Committee Member
Nazeri Abdul Ghani

Nazeri graduated from Columbia University, New York in 1990 with a Bachelor of Science in Mining Engineering. He currently works as a geophysicist, imaging the subsurface for Sarawak Shell Berhad.

Nazeri's first MNS involvement was with the Selangor branch in 1994. He became an MNS Miri member since its first inception in 1996.

His interests include photography, birdwatching, trekking and walking. He is claustrophobic and thus happiest in open spaces far away from the crowd or zooming fast in an open top convertible.

Nazeri is currently involved in the 'Waterbirds and Wetlands Habitat Survey of the Sarawak Coast' joint project between MNS BCC group, MNS Kuching and MNS Miri.

Co-opted Committee Member
Kumareson Paranthaman

Sunday, August 15, 2010

MNS-BCC Waterbirds Group Vacancy : Field Coordinator

The Malaysian Nature Society – Bird Conservation Council Waterbirds Group will conduct a survey of the entire coastline of the state of Sarawak to identify key waterbird sites and to identify and count waterbird populations during the northern winter period of October 2010 to March 2011.

Position: Field Coordinator

The Field Coordinator position (Part/Full Time) will run from Aug 2010 – July 2011 and can be based either in Kuching or Miri.

Primary duties:

1. Coordinate all aspects of the project, including specific responsibility for:

a) Plan aerial, boat and land-based surveys
b) Set-up and deploy field survey teams
c) Maintain a database of volunteers, survey details, community outreach and training programs
d) Coordinate training and public awareness events
e) Document project
f) Coordinate, store and analyse data
g) Create and maintain good relationship with community representatives within survey sectors
h) Liaise with media and produce press releases, etc
i) Write reports : weekly reports to BCC-WG, coordinate and input to interim reports, final reports
j) Keep accounts for the spending of project funds

2. Answerable and report directly to BCC-WG Chairperson (and/or his representative) on all aspects of the project work

3. Liaise with volunteer bird group coordinators in Kuching, Miri, Sibu, Mukah, Bintulu, Lawas, Seria and Bandar Seri Begawan ( Brunei )

4. Liaise with agencies, institutions and corporations and potential co-funders within and outside Sarawak (attend relevant meetings workshops, etc).

-Previous experience in environmental field survey work, engaging agencies, institutions and corporations at the highest levels, preferably in Malaysia or Southeast Asia.
-Very good strategic and planning/organizational abilities, with an aptitude to work on own initiative with minimum supervision and to stay on task.
-Malaysian national resident in Sarawak
-University degree in a related field or equivalent practical experience. Good written and oral communication skills in English and Bahasa Malaysia . Additional languages will be an advantage.
-Good interpersonal and leadership skills, innovative thinking, versatile ability to work in a team and independently.
-Willingness to travel and work outside office environments, as required.
-Ability to work effectively at all levels, with above-mentioned institutions, governments and non-government agencies and build excellent working relationships.
-Familiarity with and interest in waterbirds and wetland habitats an advantage
-Experience in scientific report-writing an advantage
-Computer literate
-Use of GPS in field and storage of GPS data an advantage

Please send your CV to:

Anthony Wong
BQ204, 1st Floor, Batu Kawah New Township (MJC),
Jalan Batu Kawa ,
93250 Kuching,

Tel: 082-463803 Fax:082-462803
Hp: 013-8333163


Applications will be dealt with in the strictest confidence.

Friday, August 6, 2010

MNS Miri Branch August Updates and News

Dear Valued Members,

Our new 2010/2011 EXCO members will sit together this weekend to come up with new and exciting activities for the upcoming months. In the meantime, the following events are currently being scheduled for August.


1. Weekend Wader Vigil

Come with us as we keep vigil for migrant waders and other waterbirds expected to reach our shores by this time of year during their Autumn migration south to Australia. All are invited to checkout the early arrivals, some should probably still be in their vibrant breeding summer colours. Typical waders seen at this time of year are the Lesser and Greater Sandplovers, Greenshanks and Common Redshanks.

Date: 7th August, 14th August 2010
Time: 6.30 - 9.00 am
Location: Meet by the makeshift shack on the main Kuala Baram Road 100 m from the right turn to Crocodile Farm.

2. Rainforest Action Network Film Screening

Join us as we screen two films that tell the story of Indonesia's rainforest (courtesy of the Rainforest Action Network), Green and Orang Rimba.

Green is a highly-acclaimed documentary that tells the emotional story of a female orangutan in Indonesia. You will understand the story of deforestation through her eyes and how the everyday products we buy here at home are affecting the habitats of the beautiful creatures like her.

Date: Wednesday, 11th Aug
Venue : Steve's Residence, 8-9pm, BYO Snacks and Drinks

Orang Rimba tells the story of a group of indigenous people whose lives are also affected by deforestation, deep in the heart of Sumatra. Listen and watch to their version of how their lives have changed with progress.

Date : TBA (September)
Venue : Steve's Residence, 8-9pm, BYO Snacks and Drinks

The date and location of this film screening will be announced soon, so please check the blog for details in the next few days.

3. Lambir Weekend Hikes

Hike with us every Saturday in Lambir Hills National Park. We often go beyond the main trails to venture into the deeper parts of Lambir. Currently, we are building our fitness on the trails with the aim of summitting Bukit Lambir in late September or early October.

4. Bario Wader Merdeka Weekend

Travel with us on a long extended weekend photographing, recording and video-taping all manner of waterbirds in the paddyfields of Bario in their autumn migration. We are expecting Wood Sandpiper, Common Moorhen and other early migrants that regularly make their stopover in Bario this time of year.

These flight options are still available (as of 06th August):
Miri-Bario Sunday, 29th August; Bario-Miri, Wednesday 01st September

MASWings flights Miri-Bario-Miri RM185/return, book your own tickets;
Accomodation RM70/person perday full board at De Plateau Lodge, including airport transfers.

This trip will have a flexible itinerary, main focus will be waterbirds of course.

4. MNS 63rd National Annual General Meeting

This year's AGM will be hosted by MNS Johor Branch 25th September 2010, Taman Rimba Lagenda, Taman Negara Johor, Gunung Ledang.

For more details, please check out MNS AGM Link.


We are proud to announce that we have been awarded the MNS Merdeka Fund for two proposed projects:

  1. 'Congregating Firefly Zone Survey for Northern Sarawak' by MNS Miri
  2. 'Waterbirds and Wetland Habitats Survey of the Sarawak Coast' by MNS BCC-Waterbirds Group, MNS Kuching and MNS Miri Branches.
It looks like a very busy year ahead for MNS Miri!


A quick reminder for the upcoming MNS 63rd Annual Meeting. Interested participants are encouraged to book their tickets to Johor as soon as possible. For more information, kindly follow this link.

The date to our Mount Murud trek in October is fast approaching! We have three more places up for grabs. Those interested in participating will need to pay RM300 deposit to MNS Miri and book their tickets to Ba'kelalan quickly as seats are limited. Please contact us for more details. To our confirmed participants, please get yourselves into shape for the trek. It will certainly not be a 'walk in the park' ;)

To all our Muslim members and friends, MNS Miri wishes you a good and prosperous fasting month ahead.