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Archive for the ‘SIG Kg Dew Firefly’ Category

Article and images by Lim Swee Yian

Perak MNS members are always ready to support MNS events especially when it is at our doorstep. On the evening of 24 July 2011, a group of us turned up at Kg Dew in a show of support for the first ever Firefly Festival in Malaysia and indeed the whole of South East Asia.

MNS and the local group KECAP (Kelip-kelip Cahaya Alam Perak), with funding from the RAMSAR Regional Centre East Asia Wetland Fund and support from Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, initiated this festival “to promote sustainable use of the Sungai Sepetang natural resources and promote firefly watching activity in Kampung Dew as an important ecotourism product for the local community and as a conservation tool”. The festival theme “Fireflies, mangroves and local community” sums up the mission of the whole project in a nutshell.

There was the usual colouring contest to enable children to participate. Handicraft such as baskets made from used paper and flowers made from sea shells and, amazingly even fish scales, were on sale. Taiping Zoo and MNS put up an exhibition. MNS Secretariat displayed posters about fireflies and their ecology. Perak MNS Bird Group put up photos on birds found in mangrove habitats, highlighting that mangroves are important for the endangered Milky Stork and are important wintering grounds for migratory birds. Some members, on their own initiative, talked to visitors about MNS and tried to recruit them.

The programme for the day ended with a trip down Sungai Sepetang to see the synchronous fireflies flash their “song”.

Budding naturalists taking a great interest in the MNS exhibit

Kim Chye and Chin Tong gracing MNS Perak Bird Group’s contribution to the festival with their presence

Edward Yong trying to recruit new members

Colouring contest

Splitting nipah fruit. That’s where “attap chi” comes from

Even the traffic police take time off to learn about fireflies

Baskets and vases made from used newspapers

Flowers made of fish scales

VIPs at the festival launch

Sahabat Hutan Bakau, an NGO from Kuala Gula

Some Perak MNS members who turned to support the festival

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Words and images by Lim Kim Chye

The 3rd project meeting was held on 26 March 2011 mainly for the villagers to introduce the new firefly eco-tourism group they had formed to the project co-ordinators. Matters related to the formation of the firefly tourism group such as ROS registration, bank account, constitution, logo etc were also on the agenda.

Boats with tourists leaving the Kg Dew jetty

The boat operators have formed a working committee for their firefly eco-tourism group which they name Kelip-kelip Cahaya Alam Perak, with the acronym KECAP. Various committee members have been given portfolios in the AJK e.g. jetty maintenance, safety, education etc. The logo depicts a caricature of a firefly with the backdrop of a tree (representing Beremban tree [Sonneratia caseolaris]) against blue background (river). Main colours are white, black and yellow which are colours of Perak flag.

Due to a clash with a booking by a tour group, the meeting which was scheduled for 8.45 pm, started very late at 11.30 pm, after the boat operators had finished with the tourists. One good thing that came out of this mix-up (it was also Earth Hour night!) was that we were able to observe how the boat operators handled the large group of some 35 tourists who arrived in a bus from KL.

Cikgu Khairul giving a briefing on fireflies to the tourists

There was generally a lack of co-ordination among the operators, unnecessary delays and lapse in safety issues in the handling of the crowd. These issues will be included in the tourist guide module that will be in the training workshop scheduled for May 14 & 15, 2011.

For information on firefly trips, please contact Cikgu Khairul (KECAP Secretary) at 012-5145023 or email amirulisa@yahoo.com.my.

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Images and report by Lim Kim Chye

The success of the Ulu Geroh Rafflesia project has prompted Perak Branch to look for another conservation initiative to lend active support. Recently this quest has concluded and we now have funding from Ramsar Regional Center – East Asia (RRC-EA) to carry out a conservation project related to fireflies and mangroves. The project, titled “Best practices in local community-based firefly watching ecotourism as part of mangroves rivers conservation” is a partnership involving MNS Conservation Unit, MNS Perak Branch and Global Environment Centre (GEC).


Boat with bakau logs

The overall objective of this project is to conserve the fast disappearing mangrove river habitats in Malaysia through firefly-watching ecotourism involving the local communities. The aim is to develop a firefly watching ecotourism model involving the local community along Sg. Sepetang which can be replicated in other firefly sites in Malaysia. The project will also train the community in ecotourism management and will help with the formation of a stakeholders committee to ensure sustainable use of Sg. Sepetang.

The 6 month project started in January 2011 with a 2 day programme at the pilot site in Kg Dew, near Taiping, Perak. Kg. Dew is located along Sg. Sepetang, where firefly-watching activities on a limited scale are being carried out by some boatmen from the nearby villages.


Documenting firefly species

On 21 January, MNS Senior Scientific Officer Sonny Wong, MNS Perak Vice-Chairman Lee Ping Kong and Lim Kim Chye carried out a survey of Sg Sepetang to observe the land-use and to assess the firefly congregations. En. Khairul Salleh, the Secretary of the Kg Dew firefly-watching ecotourism group, took us downstream for about 6 km.


Project discussion on Sg. Sepetang

We were very pleased with the spectacular firefly show we saw as the boat slowly returned upstream when night fell. All along the river, often on both banks, the mangroves were lit up by hundreds of fireflies sparkling in unison. As Ping Kong commented, the scene was like the famous Kg. Kuantan firefly river twenty years ago. It was very encouraging to see that despite the rubbish we saw upstream, the lower reaches of Sg. Sepetang still had good quality mangroves that attracted healthy populations of fireflies.


Dialogue with local community

The next day we had a dialogue session with the Kg. Dew community. Sonny presented a slide show on MNS and on fireflies and then introduced the project to the 16 villagers present. Some useful feedback on the project was obtained from the exchange of ideas, comments and suggestions.

We stressed on the need for the villagers involved in firefly ecotourism to officially form a focus group for long-term sustainability. The villagers will further discuss this matter amongst themselves and will report back at the next meeting in February 2011.

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