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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Special Rates @ Permai Rainforest Resort for MNS Members

To  MNS members, we are providing a special rate for MNS members at Permai for 2010.
  • The rate for Treehouses which is usually RM260 with breakfast for 2 is only RM200.
  • The rate for Cabins which is usually RM270 with breakfast for 6 is only RM200 for MNS members. The Cabins sleep 6 in two separate bedrooms. 
  • MNS members are required to display their membership cards upon checkin. 
  • The offer is that each member/cardholder can book 1 room per night.
  • For more details on the rooms you can visit our website: www.permairainforest.com or call reception at 082-846487 and 082-846490. 
  • This special rate also applies to non-Kuching branch members.
Rahim Bugo
Resort Manager

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

MNS 70th Anniversary Celebrations

The Malaysian Nature Society has been contributing towards the protection of Malaysia’s natural heritage since 1940. Being a membership-based organization, we have been the reason behind the protection of many key habitats as well as national and state parks in Malaysia.

Last year, MNS was recognised for its contribution to the country in the area of the environment by being awarded the prestigious inaugural Merdeka Award for our Belum-Temengor Conservation Initiative. This and other achievements of the Society have aptly demonstrated not only our passionate determination for nature conservation but also the importance of our members and their support in achieving our goals.

As we move forward, MNS strives to remain relevant, focused and steadfast while continuously improve the way we attain our long term goals, positively elevating our profile as well our way of working.

Last year MNS proudly unveiled our new 12 year long term plan and guide, "MNS Strategy Plan 2008-2020" which came about after a prolonged 2 year consultative process. With this plan, we hope to move forward together with our members and Malaysian public towards a common goal : nature conservation and be true to our mission,

To promote the study, appreciation, conservation and protection of Malaysia's natural heritage.

And this year, in conjunction with our 70 Years Anniversary, numerous events have been planned nationwide to celebrate our 70 years of work in Malaysia together with our members and the public.

These events are put together as a way to say thank you to aa for 70 Years of support for the work that we do; as well as a vehicle to increase the general awareness of our key focus in the country.

1. Press Conference (23rd January 2010)
· To announce and promote the events of MNS 70th Anniversary
· To launch the 70th logo

2. Book Launch – Limestone Hills & Caves of Kinta Valley (23rd January 2010)
· Launch at MNS HQ/Nature Owlet, followed by presentation to the public and branch
· Resources: working with Nature Owlet, Perak & Selangor Branch

3. FIFA World Cup Exhibit (29th January 2010)
· MNS project with Coco cola to be displayed, exhibition is at Mid Valley Megamall

4. Book Launch – Mangroves of Kuala Selangor (2nd Feb 2010)
· In conjunction with World Wetlands Day. Sponsored by HSBC
. To be launched at Kuala Selangor Nature Park. Officiated by YB Elizabeth Wong

5. Raptor Watch (13-14th March 2010)
· Our 11th year, to promote our 70th anniversary and launch the MNS-TM KPA project.
· All branches encouraged to attend and be part of the MNS exhibition. Speaking slots are available to branch
. Co-organised with Melaka/N9 and Selangor branch.

6. World Water Day - National Youth Conference on Water (22nd March 2010)
· Conference targeting youth and students to be held tentatively in University Malaya

7. Earth Day (22nd April)
· Events being developed that will showcase the 70th anniversary.

8. World Tapir Day (27th April)
· Public Lecture on Tapir Conservation by Carl Traeholt at MSN HQ.

9. World Migratory Bird Day 2010 (8-9th May)
. "Migrating Raptors", a talk and slideshow by MNS Raptor Study Group at Pustaka Miri and selected rural schools.
. Birdwatching trips around Miri.

10. Heavenly Weekend with the Stars (14-16th May)
. Joint MNS Miri and MNS Sabah in Kundasang
. Astronomy Camp and Stargazing

11. World Biodiversity Day (22nd May)
· Kuching Branch to organize the Penrissen Range IBA launch in conjunction with the World Biodiversity Day, in partnership with Borneo Highlands Resort.
· Kedah Branch to organize Environmental Education Conference
. Details pending.

12. World Environment Day (5th June)
· Events being developed that will showcase the 70th anniversary.
· Selangor Branch at Bukit Kiara Forest Reserve
. MNS Open Day in conjunction with World Environment Day.

13. World Oceans Day (8th June)
· Launch of the Sustainable Seafood Guide in collaboration with WWF Malaysia.

14. Fraser’s Hill International Bird Race (ten. 19-20th June)
· Being developed that will showcase the 70th anniversary

15. 70th Anniversary Roadshow MNS Miri Branch (19-20th June)
· In conjunction with World Environment Day. Theme: Marine and Coastal Conservation, Pustaka Miri. Talks and slideshows (Fossils in Miri; Dolphins in Sarawak; Reefs in Sarawak) as well as a fieldtrip to Tusan Cliffs to look for fossils the next day.

16. MNS Kuching Branch – Trees for Life (July)
· Date TBA, Venue at Sama Jaya Nature Reserve

17. 2nd International Firefly Symposium (2-5th Aug)
· FRIM as main organizer, MNS as co-organiser. MNS to present a paper on Kg. Kuantan.

18. Merdeka Day (31th Aug)
· Activities being planned to associate MNS with our Malaysian identity

19. MNS National AGM (25th Sept)
· Hosted in Johor, Lagenda Ledang Resort
· Election year for Office bearers.

20. International Conference (8th & 9th October 2010)
· 2 day International Conference, special international guests, 300 pax, titled “Challenges & Solutions to Tropical Biodiversity – 70 years and Beyond
· 1st announcement in Jan 2010, 2nd in June 2010

21. Royal Dinner (10th October 2010)
· Dinner and presentation of Awards, 800 pax.
· Awards to be given out to selected corporates and supporters

22. Borneo Bird Festival (15-17th October 2010)
· A 3-day public event at Sabah, organized by Sabah Tourism Board, co-organised by MNS and supported by BirdLife International.

23. 3rd Wetlands Link International (WLI) Asia Confernce (20-24th Oct 2010)
· 50-80 international participants. To be held in Kuala Selangor in conjunction with Festival of Wings 2010.

24. Festival of Wings (23-24th October 2010)
· 2 day annual public event at Kuala Selangor Nature Park

25. 70th Anniversary Coffeetable Book Launch (November)
· Book launch & exhibition

Malaysian Nature Society look forward to welcome more organisations and individuals to become members of MNS; to be our partners in some of our projects as well as generously volunteer time and resources in the many programmes we offer nationwide.

Together we can fruitfully work towards ensuring the protection of Malaysia’s fragile natural wonders for perpetuity, for our grandchildren and their grandchildren to come.

Event listings provided by:
Communications Division,
MNS Dec 2009,
Email: hod.communications@mns.org.my

Monday, January 18, 2010

From Long Semado to Long Pa Sia /17 January 2010

By Mary Margaret
ON a recent visit to Long Semado, my husband and I decided we were up for a ‘walk’ to Long Pa Sia, the nearest village in Sabah.
In the past, this was a relatively common undertaking to keep in touch and visit relatives. The trail, although substantially changed, is still used by the people living in the area as well as tourists (if accompanied by a guide and porters), although most decide to arrive at Long Pa Sia via a paved road by car.
In theory the ‘walk’ should have taken eight hours and it was with this in mind that we started off through the ripening paddy fields with our guide Upai and his brother-in-law Sylvester.

    LOGGING TRACK: One of the logging tracks that we scrambled along.

The latter set the pace or - as described by Upai — was the driver. I was assured that this was the standard speed and I gulped as I attempted in vain to keep up.
Occasionally, I sighted Sylvester, a student, in the far distance as he raced along the paddy field bunds and the Trusan River, which we crossed countless times before actually hitting the forest.
Harvest came early to Long Semado and the golden heads of rice nodded to all those who passed by. Each field is rather small and is protected by a large bund to control the flow of water into the fields and to prevent the drowning of the precious crop.
At intervals, Upai — a farmer — stopped to check the ripening heads in his fields. He seemed happy with the progress of the ripening grain and started harvesting the day after our return.
Upai, who is named after a Lun Bawang folk hero, Upai Semaring, lived up to his namesake. He walked without tiring, all the while carrying a huge load. Upai Semaring, carved Batu Narita on the edge of the Trusan River valley where the bulk of the rice is grown.
The clearly marked trail climbs upwards through predominantly secondary forest, which over 50 years ago was cleared for farming. Gradually secondary forest evolved into a logging track. Many types of grass and ferns overshadow the track and, in places, sun-loving shrubs were sprouting.
A brief lunch stop, a crossing of a small mountain stream and we entered old, moss covered montane forest — moist and cool. The walk was pleasant and in the distance there was the laughing call of the Crested Hornbill, which could have been laughing at us as we had another six hours to go.
The next part was somewhat less pleasant as we had to scramble along a logging track that was through forest that had been logged twice. A sense of desolation prevailed especially where the soil had been swept away by heavy rain leaving bare rock.In places the logging track had been washed away or had almost washed away. We skirted the edges on ledges that were less than a foot wide. Remains of log bridges had survived the torrential tropical rain and all that was left in several places was a single log, on which we balanced like acrobats.
Upai and Sylvester walked quickly and confidentially. I used my walking stick to maintain my balance.
Despite the destruction beauty persists.
Carnivorous pitcher plants digest insects and other small creatures that fall into the pot, providing the much-needed nitrogen that is lacking in the desolate environment.
In spite of the logging, animal life was apparent. Footprints of wild boar and small barking deer were visible in the dried mud. There were mud pools and trample ground, where the wild boar had wallowed and rooted.
Eventually we entered the remaining primary forest outside of our destination — Long Pa Sia. The cool shade was welcomed, as was its lushness. The trail flowed down the hill in the valley, in which Long Pa Sia sat along the Sia (Red) River.
We walked by buffalo runs and paddy fields and finally crossed the Pa Sia. Nine hours after setting out from Punan Trusan (Long Semado) we were there.
Tired? Yes. Sore feet? Yes.
Were we glad that we walked rather than going by road? Yes! We saw, we felt and we experienced the Byhighs, the lows, and the power of nature.

Historical Building Visit - Darul Kurnia (Administration Building of Chung Hua Middle School No. 4)

Dear members,
Please be informed that we are having a visit to the Administration Building of Chung Hua Middle School No. 4 (formerly known as Darul Kurnia) at 9:00 a.m., 23rd January 2010 (Saturday), followed by a walk along Sg. Bintagor to the Malay kampungs.  The visit would finish by 11:30a.m.
If you are interested, please kindly contact me vide email or h/p (019-8862249) for registration.  We will meet in the school's carpark.
Thank you.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A resounding ‘Best /10 january 2010

FOR THE FUTURE: The group helps with tree planting.

By:Trefoil Guild Girl Guides (Sarawak Branch)
FIFTEEN pupils and six teachers from Sekolah Pendidikan Khas (B), Jalan Batu Lintang, joined members of the Trefoil Guild Girl Guides (TGGG) Sarawak Branch and Sama Jaya Nature Reserve staff for a ‘Feel Smell Hear Nature Walk and Tree Planting’ at the reserve at the end of last year.

The pupils were divided into three groups — the Orang Utans, the Gibbons (Wak Waks) and the Hornbills — and learnt how to make the appropriate calls, and some actions, as well as about the habitats and characteristics of these animals and birds.
As they entered the jungle from the hot car park, the pupils were asked how we knew we were in the jungle ... even those of us with sight had to stop and think. It is because the atmosphere around us suddenly became cooler, wetter and noisier. The chorus of cicadas welcomed the pupils on the jungle track as they began their walk through nature.

GREAT TIME: All the children had the best time during the outing.
They were asked to touch and explore the different textures of the leaves — asked whether it felt smooth or ridged or furry. Was the leaf big or small, fat and thick or thin? They hugged a tree to see how big it had grown and put their hands on the moss on the ground to feel how soft and moist it was. They crushed some of the leaves the Park Warden gave them to differentiate between the minty fragrances of some leaves and the peppery or citrus smells of others. The pupils were told to be wary of the prickles of the very long pandan leaves, and were taught the many uses of the pandan in mat and basket weaving as well as for the flavouring of ice cream!
We heard the monkeys calling and heard them crashing through the tree branches as they played and searched for food. Later we all played games in the Baruk before adjourning to plant trees. Saplings of real forest trees (Meranti, Pitoh Air and Raba) were ready and as part of the TGGG Eco Programme, the pupils, teachers and TGGG members were shown the proper way to plant a young tree and went ahead to plant and water in all 30 saplings. This will make a real difference to the Nature Reserve, which has lost a lot of trees through wind- throw.
The day’s activities ended with a picnic meal of cakes, and apples, sandwiches and chicken. When asked if the pupils would like to visit the Sama Jaya Nature Reserve again, they all replied in the affirmative.When asked what they thought of the day’s outing, the answer was a resounding, ‘Best!’

Grateful thanks go to:The staff and pupils of

  • Sekolah Khas (B) Jalan Batu Lintang for the great time and memories you gave us all;
  • The Park Warden of Sama Jaya Nature Reserve and his staff for their wonderful people / park skills and getting the planting holes ready for us;
  • Trefoil Guild Girl Guides (TGGG) Sarawak Branch members, who organised the event under their Eco Programme, enjoyed every bit of being with our Sekolah Khas friends and sponsored and served a delicious lunch.
TGGG Sarawak Branch was established in 2002 to allow former Girl Guides to continue to be actively involved in the Guiding movement and to carry on the Guiding spirit. It is in this community spirit that TGGG assists various organisations each year.

                                                         INTERESTING: Pupils study the texture of a leaf.

DON’T BE SCARED: A nature reserve staff member helps a pupil to feel a tree trunk.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The enchanted night walk /3 January 2010

FELINE-LIKE: The cat gecko with its coiled tail. — Photo by Jaynsen Patrick Sibat

 by Cheong Ah Kwan
MOONBEAMS led the way as we marched past the golf course alongside a trail of fire ants. My friend would laugh in my face again for mentioning fire ants, for he still thinks that I invented the fiery moniker!

In actual fact, their name gives an excellent description of the burning sensation inflicted on the unfortunate victim when bitten. With a torch, we were able to trace their purposeful journey to an earwig meal.
We left the buggy track, filed across a small bamboo bridge and disappeared into the jungle trail. It was dark and we had to switch on our torches as the canopy only allowed moonlight to filter through now and then. Almost immediately, a dwarf toad sitting on a large leaf by the gurgling stream came into sight. As its name implies, the dwarf toad is really tiny, no bigger than 15 millimetres long.
As we proceeded down the trail, our guides would stop every few metres or so to point out their interesting nocturnal sightings. Hence, the dark trail came alive with spiders, termites, beetles, cockroaches, stick insects, frogs and lizards. The long-legged centipede (Thereupoda sp) held our attention for a while. The predator, with its long intimidating legs, took on a military form and was on the prowl. The other insects on the same tree trunk seemed to sense the great danger that was lurking around.
Stick insects are difficult enough to spot in broad daylight and it was awesome how our guides could just pick them out at night. A variety of stick insects were seen. Some of them have textured bodies. One had a body that looked like it was encrusted with coral. Even in the darkness of night, some of the creatures we encountered were incredibly well-camouflaged. A case in point is the Bornean Horned Frog (Megophrys nasuta), a rarely-seen frog that is endemic to Borneo.
The frog, which hides under logs and among leaf litter looking like a dead leaf, has pointed, triangular projections from the edge of the eyelids like horns. These ‘horns’, however, do not make them more conspicuous. On the contrary, they blend in rather nicely with the forest floor.
The frog is bigger than most frogs I have seen, yet it took me a while to locate it even when the torchlight was trained on it. Although it is active at night, it cannot move very fast and does not climb. Its slender legs, which are not in proportion to its stocky build, are not designed for jumping as it is not necessary to escape quickly from its enemies.
Admirers are probably a nuisance and our poor frog made several feeble attempts to escape from the unwelcome attention. It was futile, of course, for each time it was picked up to be photographed on a contrasting background. After countless shots, we finally returned our reluctant ‘horned’ model to its leaf litter. A deep duck- like quack bade us good night; or did I imagine that?

LEGGY: The long-legged centipede. — Photo by Anthony Wong
Not far away, on the branch of a small tree, was a white-lipped tree frog. This small frog has a bright green dorsal surface and a whitish ventral surface, with a distinctive white lip and large toe pads for climbing. Again, a keen eye will reveal many of these frogs along the trail.
No longer than the first joint of my little finger, the sticky frog protects itself by secreting a repulsive gluey substance when touched. I noticed our guides walked quickly past the sticky frog without pausing to further comment. Taking the cue, we followed quietly. A bit of excitement was generated among the photographers when we came upon our first lizard that night; a bent-toed gecko (Cyrtodactylus sp). Lizards often leave their tails behind in their attempt to escape from   . The bent-toed gecko has a prominent striped tail that strangely blends in well with its surroundings. It would be a shame to lose that ambiguous tail. The lizard had to be handled carefully to prevent any tail loss. An incomplete specimen would neither give proper credit to the lizard nor its photographers.
Another lizard that set the cameras clicking was the entirely nocturnal cat gecko (Aeluroscalabotes felinus). The cat gecko is designed for an arboreal lifestyle with its retractile claws and a prehensile tail. The fat- looking tail is often coiled and is characteristic. Apparently, the lizard would curl up with its tail wrapped around itself when it sleeps, just like a cat.
It was time for us to curl up, too as we had to start off early for the bird race the following day. There was still a lot to see as we had only covered about one-fifth of the whole trail. The two hours spent had been nothing less than enchanting. My 12-year-old was bewitched and she can’t wait for MNS to organise the next night walk!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

A case of extremes /December 27, 2009

By Mary Margaret /— Bernama photo
What do you think? Has the weather gone crazy? Is it raining when it should be dry? Or is it dry when it should be wet? Is it superlative weather — the hottest, the coldest, the driest, the wettest, the worst storm?
Have you come to expect the unexpected? The changing and extreme weather patterns this year compared to past years have been making headlines.
The American Midwest and parts of Europe were buried in snow; freezing cold of about -40 degrees Celsius hit the Canadian prairies during the second week of December. Fiji was struck by a Category 2 (Category 5 is the highest) cyclone with wind speeds of 90 to 110 km per hour leaving three people dead, a trail of destruction, landslides and flooding.
Other regions in the South Pacific were not spared. Australia is threatened in the north by cyclones and in the southeast by extreme heat of 40 degrees Celsius — the hottest since the fire storm swept through Victoria last February, killing 173 people and burning 2,000 homes to the ground.
Who can forget the poignant photo of an exhausted fire fighter giving water via a mineral water bottle to a koala that had survived the fire, but had burnt its paws?
Losing land
Land has disappeared. Two islands—Tebua Tarawa and Abanuea (which ironically means the beach which lasts a long time) —which belonged to the Island State of Kiribati now lie beneath the waters of the South Pacific.
Twenty-nine atolls of the Marshal Islands are at risk. The cost of building a single temporary sea wall for a single atoll is estimated at US$100 million; a cost greater than the yearly wealth of the country.
Two thousand Indonesian islands are expected to be victims of climate change and global warming as well.
Mother Nature displayed her strength (and anger?) while we negotiated an agreement in Copenhagen to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. Representatives, negotiators, Ministers of the Environment, met from Dec 7-18, to thrash out the accords to take the place of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
Most industrialized countries agreed to legally binding reductions of greenhouse gases emission to 6 to 8 per cent below the 1990 level. This protocol, which also established carbon trading, was ratified by 175 countries A sense of gloom hung over the Danish capital during this two-week period. Representatives of developing countries walked out and protesters were arrested. The world watched with dimming hopes for even just a political agreement on how the 192 countries around the world will cut emissions to below the 1990 level, allocate funds to the developing world and that these economies continue to grow even while reducing emissions.
The science behind global warming is not being questioned. The percentage of CO2 and the other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is rising. We are experiencing unpredictable weather. The complications are economic as economic growth; the industrial revolution and the consumer-driven economies are responsible for the ever increasing levels of CO2 in our Earth’s atmosphere. Nature is responding to this influx.

WATER EVERYWHERE: Residents brave flood waters in Kelantan last month. — Bernama photo    
To not respond may be a decision for immediate financial returns and sound the most economical, but it will mean future disasters. We live in controlled environments and nature is what we see on television. This gigantic divide separates us from the natural world, which we cannot live without. It is from this world that we get oxygen, food and water.
What we can do?
Regardless of the success or lack of success in Copenhagen, we can take action at a personal level. And the first step is to embrace the natural world and Mother Nature’s gifts, which we have taken for granted for so long. The second is to remember the well-known and much repeated refrain — reduce, reuse, recycle repair and refuse.
The Sibu Municipal Council has taken the bold step of banning plastic bags on some days. Plastic bags for the most part are unnecessary and end up clogging drains, rivers and eventually the oceans where the accumulated non-decomposable rubbish builds up. So we need to remember to bring along our own marketing bag and containers. What does it matter if the onions are mixed with the oranges?All sorts of complicated schemes have been suggested to pull the excess carbon from the air. This is what trees and other plants do through the process of photosynthesis. Plant trees so that they can act as carbon sinks. There is so much else that we can do.
 Let’s try to:
  •  switch off lights and electricity sockets use energy efficient light bulbs
  • use energy efficient appliances recycle paper, plastic, metal and glass compost kitchen and garden waste
  • eat less meat 
  • eat locally grown food 
  • buy less 
  • make use of technology 
  • to reduce the amount of paper used 
  • walk more 
  • drive less and use an energy efficient car 
  • fly less 
  • plant trees to act as carbon sinks
  •  reduce, reuse, recycle, repair and refus
When the bell tolls midnight on Jan 1, 2010, will you resolve to be part of the solution?

Encounters with fireflies/ December 20, 2009

By Musa Musbah
IT was some 30 years ago when I first experienced the magic of the Miri River. It was just after my marriage and my father- in-law often travelled along the river. My in- laws had a pineapple farm at Sunday Mali, a tributary of the Miri River. On the weekends, I used to follow him by boat to the farm and we normally went paddling back home to Pout Corner.

We would paddle after sunset and sometimes reached home around 10pm. I remember very well that both sides of the riverbank used to glitter with the light show of fireflies.
As my father-in-law was a superstitious person, he would remind us not to disturb them and be content to just watch and enjoy the show.
According to him, the trees that harbour fireflies have owners. By this he meant that they were ‘haunted’. It was enthralling to see the fireflies flickering in a group with such perfect synchronicity.
Sometimes, at night, we went out to catch prawns with homemade ‘serampang laut’ along the Pujut-Lutong section. The area was also full of firefly displays, but this was some 30 years ago.
On a recent fishing excursion along the same river, I did not notice fireflies, perhaps I just wasn’t paying enough attention. I will go back.
Fifteen years ago, at the height of my prawn fishing craze, I travelled sections of the Suai River; and it used to be lit with firefly displays as well.
We would drive to Kampung Iran from Miri, which is about 130km away, and would be at the water’s edge by midnight. We would then get on our perahu and paddle to the best prawn sites. All the way to these sites, congregating fireflies lit up the riverbanks.
One evening, our boat engine broke down near Pasir Puteh, some 15km from Iran, and we were forced to paddle our way up river. The riverbanks then were glittering with fireflies. This kept us buoyant and at ease as we made the strenuous trip upstream.
Recently, I attended a Firefly Workshop organized by the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), Conservation Division with several key firefly experts from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) and MNS. The Institute of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Conservation (IBEC) hosted it along with Unimas, led by Dr Andrew Alek Tuan.
The workshop was supported by experts, among them entomologists Dr Mahadimenakbar Mohamed Dawood of Universiti Malaysia Sabah; Wan Faridah Akmal Wan Jusoh of Universiti Putra Malaysia, and MNS Conservation Division senior conservation officer Sonny Wong.
It was really an eye- opening workshop and proved to be a new learning high for me.
We attended a series of talks and watched slide shows, followed by fieldwork of the first fireflies ever recorded in Sarawak at Sungai Buntal in Kuching.
We came across 90- display trees along each side of the river. The total distance covered was about 10km. We saw that there seemed to be two or more species of fireflies, because of the different flashing patterns.
To positively identify a firefly, samples need to be captured. The specimens are then examined under a microscope. It’s possible that the identity of fireflies discovered that day were different from the ones originally catalogued.
Fireflies are actually beetles, not flies. Entomologists know them better as beetles from the family of Lampyridae.
The most known firefly species are bioluminescent as adults. Less known, however, is that all known firefly larvae and eggs are bioluminescent. Fireflies are one of the indicator species of the health of a river system. The presences of fireflies indicate that the river is clean and supports a healthy mangrove system.
The life cycle of the firefly begins with the eggs in the mangroves, some 100 metres from the maximum tide level, as this ensures the eggs are not drowned during the high tide. The eggs hatch into larvae and feed on tiny snails.
It takes three to four months for the larvae to pupate into adults. The adults emerge and fly to the display trees where they attract mates. After mating, the females then lay their eggs and thus the whole cycle of firefly life begins again.
A firefly grouping on atree is called a congregating firefly. The tree is then known as a display tree. The commonly used display trees are Berembang or mangrove apple, locally known as Buah Pedada (Sonneratia caseolaris). Fireflies also prefer younger trees.
Each species of firefly communicates through unique flashing patterns. Most rivers in Sarawak once supported huge Berembang tree populations. However, they were heavily harvested for use as pilings for buildings and the local charcoal industry.
For many years huge swaths of mangrove swamps in Sarawak were destroyed in this way. Many firefly congregations were also destroyed together with the mangroves in the process.
After the Fireflies Workshop, I pledged to get back to the rivers where I used to see these fascinating little creatures. High on my target list are rivers in Miri, Suai, Bekenu and Niah areas.

I will endeavour to share the knowledge gained with the locals and impress on them the importance of fireflies and our river ecosystems

 FIREFLIES WORKSHOP: Participants of the workshop learned more about these fascinating creatures, which are an indicator of the health of a river system.

Workshop on biosafety capacity building

13 December 2009 
By Zora Chan
A WORKSHOP on biosafety for Sarawak stakeholders was held in Kuching recently, and the Malaysian Nature Society — Kuching branch, a stakeholder under the non- governmental organisation (NGO) category, was invited to participate.
            The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) held the one and a half-day workshop in collaboration with the State Planning Unit (SPU), Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC), Global Environment Fund (GEF) and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Malaysia signed the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety (CPB) on May 24, 2000, and the Biosafety Bill was re-drafted to harmonise with the CPB. Malaysia then ratified the CPB in September 2003 and the Biosafety Bill was passed in Parliament in July 2007.
Biosafety capacity building is a key prerequisite for the effective implementation of the CPB as well as the National Biosafety Act.
            In order to be able to effectively implement the National Biosafety Act and meet the country’s international obligations, appropriate institutional mechanisms and infrastructure, well-trained human resources, adequate funding as well as easy access to relevant information must be in place.
            ‘Support to Capacity Building Activities on Implementing the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the National Biosafety Act’, a project funded by GEF, led by NRE with support from UNDP Malaysia, was implemented in 2007 to answer the above needs as well as to build channels for information dissemination and public participation.
Therefore, NRE engaged all stakeholders at the state-level so that the gap in capacity development could be identified and activities geared towards bridging them. The workshop aimed to present the overall objectives of the NRE-UNDP-GEF Biosafety project, its implementation activities and also provide an opportunity to share experiences and lessons learned among various stakeholders in regulatory and enforcement procedures and the challenges to effectively implement the Biosafety Act.

THE ACT: A copy of the Biosafety Act 2007.

Objectives of the workshop were:
Biosafety Project

  • Ø  To share experiences and issues among the stakeholders in the area of biosafety capacity needs
  • Ø  To review information of past and on-going biosafety capacity building activities and gather future needs at the state level where biosafety capacity is concerned.

The speakers at the workshop were NRE Biosafety Core Team head Letchumanan Ramatha, Universiti Putra Malaysia associate professor Dr Norihan Mohd Saleh, Chemistry Department senior officer Jasbeer Kaur, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak associate professor Dr Edmund Sim Ui Hang and NRE-UNDP-GEF Biosafety Project national coordinator Dr Vilasini Pillai.
            Among others, they briefed participants on ‘The Development of Living Modified Organism (LMOs): Impact on Environment and the Need for Regulation’, ‘Overview on GMO — What’s in Store for Us?’, ‘Malaysia Biosafety Act 2007’ and ‘Introduction to Capacity Building Activities for the Implementation of the Cartagena Protocol and the Malaysian Biosafety Act’.
            According to Letchumanan, biosafety involves rules and procedures designed to reduce and eliminate the potential risks resulting from the applications of modern biotechnology and
its products so that it would be safe for human, plant and animal health, and the environment. The Biosafety Act 2007 came into force on Dec 1, 2009 and would pave the way to establish the National Biosafety Board (NBB) to regulate the release, importation, exportation and contained use of LMOs, and the release of products of such organisms, with the objectives of protecting human, plant and animal health, the environment and biological diversity.
            Workshop participants also held group discussions to provide feedback on the future needs of stakeholders at the state level where biosafety capacity is concerned.
They also identified gaps for biosafety capacity building, potential collaborating partners in Sarawak and how to establish two-way communication platform with NRE-UNDP-GEF Biosafety Project Team to facilitate future activities.

MORE INFO: Publications on biosafety from Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

Among others, they agreed that a body like Sarawak Biosafety Council or Project Steering Committee should be formed; awareness programmes on Biosafety Act 2007 to be held for school and university students, the media and community; and a standard guideline to be provided for enforcement officers as reference.
They also listed out potential collaborating partners for implementing biosafety capacity building in Sarawak.
These included the Department of Agriculture, Department of Chemistry, Department of Immigration, Department of Customs, Department of Forest, State Planning Unit, local authorities, consumers associations, farmers association, religious bodies, trade associations, universities and NGOs like Angkatan Zaman Mansang (Azam) and MNS.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Invitation to Lunch hour talk at UNIMAS

Dear MNS Kuching Branch members,

Best wishes for the New Year 2010.

This years marks 70 years of MNS in Malaysia - a grand milestone indeed, and certainly cause for celebration. Check out the MNS web site at www.mns.org.my and watch this space and our mnskuching blog (link at the end of this message) for exciting events and activities to commemorate the occasion.

We have received an invitation from the Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation at the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak to the following:

Date: 12 January 2010 (Tuesday)
Speaker: Dr Stuart Davies, Director of the Center for Tropical Forest Science; Staff Scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and Director of Asia Programs at the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University.
Topic: On the diversity and dynamics of tropical forests. Results from a global network of large-scale forest plots.
Time: 1-2 p.m.
Venue: Tutorial Room 5, Level G, Faculty of Resources Sciences and Technology (FRST), UNIMAS.

Directions to venue from the main entrance of the UNIMAS campus: 
After you enter the main gate at UNIMAS, you will see the golf course on your left. Follow the road to the 1st roundabout and take the left turn until you reach another roundabout. There, take the left turn until you reach the 3rdroundabout, then take the right turn towards the huge grey building (=FRST). Note: the golf course is always on the left all the way to the 3rd roundabout.

Please call the following to confirm your attendance:

082 581388 ext 3007 (Sendie) or 082 581388 ext 3803 (Mazlini/Rahah) latest by 11 January 2010.

Thank you.

Rebecca D'Cruz
Chair, Kuching Branch 2009/2010