MNS Perak’s stand on Temengor Forest Reserve was recently published in Nanyang Siang Pau news daily. The full Mandarin version can be viewed at Nanyang’s website.
Exco member Tou Jing Yi has painstakingly translated the entire text for the benefit of English readers;
Title: Heavy deforestration affecting endangered Temengor. 100 thousand signatures needed to save the hornbills
Ipoh, 7th – The population of hornbills are disappearing in Perak, a state with the rare sight of “thousands of hornbills covering the skies” that could be seen in the past. MNS has recently initiated a national 100 thousand petition, swearing to awaken the state government to be concerned and would find a solution to the problem through the power of the people.
MNS warned that, the large trees where the huge 4 feet wingspan bird roost and feed, are heavily exploited by humans due to their high economical value, causing the hornbills to loose their natural habitat.
For MNS that protects the nature’s wildlife, Perak is in fact the real “land of hornbill” in Malaysia, not the East Malaysian state of Sarawak (mistakenly written as Sabah in the original article). However, the number of hornbills have greatly decreased today in the virgin forest from Belum State Park to Temengor in Hulu Perak.
If the state government remained to stay abstinence of the matter, Perak’s largest green lung would be described as “no birds in the thousand mountains, no human in the miles of road” (literally translating this poetic sentence, an approaprite translation might be “a place with no birds nor humans”) in the future.
The gathering point of Plain-pouched Hornbill
Lee Ping Kong, Vice President of MNS Perak branch told “Nan Yang Siang Pau”, the society is currently actively involved in hornbill conservation work in Perak.
“Perak is a gathering spot to conserve the globally threatened Plain-pouched Hornbill. Thousands of Plain-pouched Hornbill flying in huge flocks is a rare phenomenon is South East Asia, Perak happens to have it as a seasonal phenomena.”
Hoping for a stop in issuing logging permits
“MNS has conducted the inaugural hornbill survey in 1993, there are up to 2600 birds sighted in a single day. In the survey during September 2008, the number has increased to 3600 birds, this has indicated that the population of the hornbill has been increasing in 15 years. However, the survey in 2009 indicates the number of Plain-pouched Hornbills, that had been the most abundant hornbill species in Temengor, had plunge to less than 60 birds.”
He says, MNS hope to collect up to 100 thousand signatures by the Earth Day on 5th June, to support the state government in stopping the issue of logging permits for the virgin forest of Temengor, in order to save the wild animals.
10 species of rare hornbills gathering at Temenggor
Hornbills are slow moving but funny looking birds, it requires two crucial conditions to survive, other than requiring huge trees to nest in, it also requires large fig trees for them to roost and feed.
Lee says, if we would want to see the hornbills gather and roost, the prime condition is unlogged virgin forests, once the tall huge trees are cut down, the nesting conditions of the birds will totally be damaged.
“The Plain-pouched Hornbill could fly in flocks up to 80 km. According to records, they can fly from Bang Lang National Park of southern Thailand to western Temenggor forest in Perak. Pos Chiong in Temenggor, located 50 km from the Malaysian-Thai borders, is the common roosting spot for the Plain-pouched Hornbills.”
The Temenggor and surroundings are virgin forests of 130 million years of history, is the gathering paradise for 10 rare species of hornbills, can be said to be only location to see hornbills in Malaysia (This is probably a misprint, I believed they could have originally meant that this is the only location to see ALL TEN species of hornbills?), and also with the highest count of these birds.
In the survey conducted in Temenggor forest during 1993, there are up to 2600 individuals of different species of hornbills in a single day. MNS will conduct surveys in the month of August and September annually.
Recently, MNS sent in teams to survey in the forests, during the lowest peak of February and March this year, there are hardly 20 Plain-pouched Hornbills sighted. MNS members has divided into batches to survey a few important spots during the morning and evening periods.
Pledging to implement 4 steps to save birds
MNS hopes to call upon public opinion, in order to request the state government to save the hornbills thorugh 4 major steps. The Belum-Temmengor forest group that was listed as the Belum State Park, is gazetted as the Royal State Park in May 2007. Park. The location is however recently excessively deforested and has threatened the roosting habitat of various organisms.
Lee says, if the mass legal or illegal logging activities continued with no limits, Malaysia will lose its first class natural tourism product, including the lost of chance in seeing wild elephants, rhinoceros, tigers, Malayan tapirs, gaurs (seladang) and impressive phenomenon of ten of thousands of hornbills flying in flocks in the forest.
For the society, the forest with hornbills are those that were healthy and pristine, the number of hornbills, is the thermometer to indicate the survival of wildlife in the forest. With the disappearance of such big forest-loving birds, even fierceful tigers and wild elephants could not have a pleasant stay and life.
He said, through the digital satellite images, one can see the images of logged areas in Temenggor forest, this could have indicated illegal logging activities.
4 majors steps to save the birds
1. Stop issuing new logging license for Temenggor.
2. Completely stopping logging events in Temenggor by 2012.
3. Develop a comprehensive forest management plan for Belum-Temenggor forest.
4. Strengthen the enforcement on the hunting and trading activities of wildlife.
“When books are needed (literal translation of a Chinese proverb, meaning books are valuable to obtain knowledge when we need it, this is likely a “Useful knowledge/tip” segment of the paper): Hornbills got their name from the rhinoceros like “horns””
Hornbill is a large exotic and precious bird, it is a common name for birds from the family of Bucerotidae, order of Coraciiformes. The hornbills were well known because of the bone casque that is grown at the bill base on certain species. The bill length is one third to half of the body length, wide and flat toes are very suitable for tree climbing, thick and long eyelashes are grown on the pair of big eyes.
The most curious part is on its head, that has a crest that looked like a helmet, known as casque, just like the horn of a rhinoceros, hence it is known as the “rhinoceros bird” (Chinese name for hornbills).