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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Invitation to Attend IBEC Seminar Series on 13 April 2010@1:00pm

Dear all,
Please find below an invitation to a talk to be held at UNIMAS.
Please confirm your attendance by sending an email to : tsendi@ibec.unimas.my
Thank you.
MNS Kuching Branch

On behalf of the Director of IBEC, I wish to invite Prof/Dr/Sir/Madam to attend our IBEC Seminar Series as below:

     Date  |13 April 2010 (Tuesday)
   Speaker :| Ms. Gillian Braulik, Marine Biologist University of St. Andrew, UK
   Topic:  |  “Methods  for  Studying  and  Conserving Small Population of Dolphins in Asia”
   Time:   |  1:00pm – 2:00pm (Lunch Hour Talk),
   Venue: |  Tutorial  Room  5,  Level  G, IBEC/FRST Building, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak

Speakers Background:
Gill  Braulik  is  a  marine  biologist  specializing  in  research  and conservation  of  marine and freshwater dolphins in Asia.  She has spent the last ten years working on the Indus River dolphin which is a species endemic  to  Pakistan that persists in a river system fragmented by damsand barrages and degraded by water diversion for irrigation.  Ms Braulik has also been conducting baseline abundance surveys, identifying threats and in the  design  of protected areas for coastal dolphins in various parts of Asia including Iran, Bangladesh, India and Hong- Kong.


Methods  for  studying  and  conserving small populations of dolphins in Asia Gill Braulik University of St. Andrews, UK
Many  marine  mammal  populations  in  Asia  occur  as  small,  isolated populations  in  restricted  habitat making them extremely vulnerable to human-caused  mortality.   Coastal and riverine populations of Irrawaddy dolphins are among the most threatened of the world's cetacean species, and populations such as those found in Kuching, are of high conservation importance.   The  two  methods most commonly used to assess and monitor trends   in  abundance  of  cetaceans  are  line  transect  surveys and photo-identification;  these  will be discussed in relation to long-term studies on coastal dolphins in Hong Kong and Bangladesh.  Identification of  critical  habitat  or  hotspots of cetacean occurrence as well as an evaluation  of  the  type, magnitude and strategies for managing threats are  vital for design of protected areas appropriate for managing whales and dolphins.



Please confirm your attendance by sending an email to : tsendi@ibec.unimas.my
Lunch Hour Talk (1-2pm) on 13 April (Tuesday) at TR5, Faculty of Resources Sciences/IBEC Building

Monday, March 29, 2010

Earth- Hour 2010, Photo Gallery, pictures by Cynthia Lobato

Rebecca our MNS Chairperson is giving a talk on MNS.

Maggie and Rose before the light went off.
During Earth-Hour
WWF our neigbours hurry to lit the candles before the light went off.
This was the result and it looked superb.
Concert by candle light.
The Audience.
Guess who's sitting there at the MNS stall.
Nafisah and friends.

— Photos by Robert Yeoh / Text by Mary Margaret

UNDERGROWTH: While walking we may observe mushrooms or other fungi fruiting bodies. Most fungi is invisible to the naked eye but some fruiting bodies are truly spectacular, for example this yellow mushroom which looks like a flying saucer. Fungi, which are neither plants or animals,but have a separate kingdom, are important decomposers and assist with the release of nutrients from dead material so that they can be recycled.k

SAMA Jaya Forest in Tabuan Jaya, a 38-ha green oasis in an urban jungle, is a refuge for many small animals including insects and other invertebrates,birds, reptiles and mammals. If you are lucky you may see or hear long-tailed macaques calling or jumping between the trees while you are taking in the delights of this small, but heavily used park. We cannot but notice the trees — towering giants to saplings. The leaves of each tree are different shapes (oval, round, irregular), colours (jade, emerald, dark green) and size (tiny to gigantic). Sometimes the newly emerged leaves are pink or red. Sama Jaya Forest Park contains much beauty. To be captivated by it we only need to stop and look.
TASTY SNACK: These newly unfurled red leaves were munched on, probably by insects, even before they opened.
PRETTY WINGS: Butterflies and moth members of the Lepidoptera family are delicate insects that flit in and around the flowers of Sama Jaya Nature Park and on a visit we can normally see these beautiful creatures. They are one of the two types of insects to have wings covered with scales. Butterflies are active during the day, unlike moths, which are generally on the move at night. Butterflies, unlike moths, do not fold in their wings. Both go through complete metamorphosis from the egg stage to the larval stage to the chrysalis and finally to the adult. Adult butterflies have mouth parts that enable them to drink nectar. They are an intricate part of the web of life as pollinators and as food for other animals

ATTRACTIVE: Simpoh air (Dilleni suffruticosa), a member of the Dilleniaceae family, is a tall shrub that can reach seven metres. It can be seen in several places in the park. It has large oval leaves, 24 to 45 centimetres long and 12 to 20 centimetres wide, which resemble elephant ears, thus it is also known by the other name of Simpoh gajah (elephant). This common pioneer species can be recognised not only because of its distinctive leaves, but also due to its large bright yellow flowers, which attract insect and  birds

                                           JUNGLE BLOOMS: Beauty in small packages

ANCIENT SPECIES: In places, ferns appear along the walking and jogging paths. These are non-flowering plants that have roots, leaves and stems but produce via spores. Light-loving ladder ferns, probably Nephrolepis spp, rapidly fill in the gaps in the forest via its aggressive underground stem

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blog review

Dear members,

It's been a little more than 3 months since we set up the Kuching Branch blog. We would be very interested to know if you check the blog regularly, and if you find the information there useful. We would also be keen to hear your suggestions on how we can improve the blog and make it more useful as a source of information for you. When you visit the blog, please leave a comment or two about the articles and announcement - we love hearing from you!
We are also on Facebook: "Malaysian Nature Society Kuching Branch" for those who are on FB. We don't put all the information on FB, though. Most of the information can be found on the blog.
Please help us in our efforts to improve communications.

Cynthia Lobato
MNS Committee

question about trips

Dear members,

We would also like to know if Kuching Branch members would be interested to participate in trips organized by the Miri Branch. The Miri Branch members regularly organize interesring trips to places like Simalajau National Park, Kinabalu Park, and Lambir National Park, among others. We believe these provide a great opportunity to enhance interaction between the two MNS branches in Sarawak. However, there are costs involved, e.g. airfare, accommodation, local transport, food. and so we'd like to know if there is enough interest among Kuching Branch members before we begin planning such trips. If you are interested in joining such trips, please let us know by return email.

Thanks a lot,

Cynthia Lobato
Committee member

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

applications for the position of Executive Director at the MNS Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur.

Dear MNS Kuching Branch members,
Please see attached files for the call for applications for the position of Executive Director at the MNS Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur. Deadline for applications is 15 April 2010; details in the attached.
Please direct all questions to the Ms Maye Yap, Head of Services at the MNS Secretariat. Maye can be reached at: hod.services@mns.org.my
Rebecca D'Cruz 

Malaysia’s oldest and largest non‐governmental membership‐based nature conservation organisation, with approximately 4,000 members, is seeking an individual who is passionate about nature and preferably knowledgeable about the environment to lead the organization’s Secretariat:

1. MNS Executive Director
The Executive Director (ED) is the highest level administrative and managerial position in the organization. The role of the Executive Director is to act on behalf of the MNS members to further the mission and goals of the organization. This position reports to Council (with several direct and indirect stakeholders).


Program development and administration:
a. to ensure consistent and timely progress towards the implementation of MNS’s long‐term strategic plan;
b. to oversee the execution of strategic and policy initiatives authorized by the MNS Council and Board of Trustees;
c. to provide leadership and strategic direction in the management and administration of the MNS Secretariat ensuring synergy through the cohesive efforts of all divisions;
d. to develop programme / project proposals, organizational and financial plans consistent with the strategies approved by the MNS Council and Board of Trustees;
e. to raise funds for the organization, and to ensure compliance with donor and partner requirements;
f. to ensure an efficient technology‐assisted system of business and work flow processes that will promote collaboration, cooperation and knowledge access.
g. to sustain the independence, objectivity and integrity of MNS and its programmes;

 h. to actively engage with all levels of the organization including the Board of
Trustees, MNS Council, Branches and members;
i. to represent the organization effectively externally, so as to promote MNS’s demonstrated successes, and to advocate for improved nature conservation outcomes;
j. to establish sound working relationships and cooperative arrangements with government institutions, non‐governmental organizations, academic institutions, media, donors and international partners.

k. to be responsible for the recruitment, employment and release of all MNS Secretariat personnel, both paid and volunteers;
l. to ensure that job descriptions are developed, that regular performance evaluations are held, and that sound human resource practices are in place;
m. toensurethataneffectivemanagementteam,withappropriateprovisionfor succession, is in place;
n. to encourage staff development and education, and assist programme staff in relating their specialized work to the total programme of the organization;
o. to maintain a climate that attracts, keeps and motivates a diverse staff of top quality people.

The MNS Executive Director is expected to have:
1. A working knowledge of nature conservation and environmental issues, with preferably an advanced degree or proven experience in a field related to nature conservation and/or sustainable development;
2. A successful track record of at least five years of managing projects/programmes, staff, resources and fiduciary responsibilities;
3. Good interpersonal skills, with proven ability to lead and direct a diverse work force dealing with complex and sometimes sensitive issues;
4. Ability to work effectively and sensitively with a very wide range of stakeholders, including community‐based groups, civil society, international organizations, and government agencies.
5. Excellent written and oral communication skills with the ability to present complex and difficult issues clearly and concisely.

Working for Malaysian Nature Society is more than just a job, it’s a passion. Your duties will allow you to contribute directly towards the conservation of our natural heritage. If you draw satisfaction in knowing you’ve done something for nature, please send in a cover letter and CV with three contactable references (n.r.) not later than 15 April 2010 to:
Head of Services Malaysian Nature Society
 JKR 641 Jalan Kelantan Bukit Persekutuan 
50480 Kuala Lumpur
 Email: hod.services@mns.org.my
(Only shortlisted candidates will be notified)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Malaysian Nature Society Kuching Branch: Flat-headed cat of southeast Asia is now endangered

Malaysian Nature Society Kuching Branch: Flat-headed cat of southeast Asia is now endangered


Flat-headed cat of southeast Asia is now endangered

A flat-headed cat caught by a camera trap in Tangkulap Forest Reserve, Sabah, Malaysia in March 2009
By Matt Walker 
Editor, Earth News

One of the smallest and most enigmatic species of cat is now threatened with extinction.
According to a new study, habitat loss and deforestation are endangering the survival of Asia's flat-headed cat, a diminutive and little studied species.
Over 70% of the cat's habitat has been converted to plantations, and just 16% of its range is now protected.
The cat, which has webbed feet to help hunt crabs and fish, lives among wetland habitats in southeast Asia.
Details on the decline of the cat's range are published in the journal PLoS ONE.
The flat-headed cat is among the least known of all wild cat species, having never been intensively studied in its natural habitat.
Weighing just 1.5 to 2kg, the cat is thought to be nocturnal, adapted to hunting small prey in shallow water and along muddy shores.
Now restricted to a handful of tropical rainforests within Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei and Indonesia, nothing is known about the size of each cat's home range or the density of the remaining population.
So in an attempt to estimate how the species is faring, a team of scientists gathered together all known information about where the cat is thought to live, including sightings, pictures taken by camera traps and dead specimens.
The team, led by Mr Andreas Wilting of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin, Germany gathered 107 records overall, which they then used to create a computer model that predicts the cat's historical and current distribution.
That confirmed that flat-headed cats like to live near large bodies of water such as rivers and lakes. They also prefer coastal and lowland areas.
Crucially for the species's survival though, the researchers found that just 16% of its historical range is fully protected according to criteria laid down by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
Other areas are also protected, but these are large national parks, which in southeast Asia tend to be located at higher elevations where the flat-headed cat is not thought to roam.
Around 70% of its former range may already have been converted to plantations to grow crops such as palm oil.
Also, two-thirds of all the locations the cat has been recorded in are now surrounded by areas in which high densities of people live.
The cat's scarcity is underlined by the fact that it has been photographed just 17 times by camera traps.
In comparison, other felids in the region, such as tigers, leopard cats, marbled cats and Asian golden cats are regularly photographed this way.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Earth Week from March 22 to 28 at Green Heights Mall!

Dear members and friends of MNS,
It’s Earth Week from March 22 to 28 at Green Heights Mall!
MNSKB is proud to be associated with this local green initiative.
Learn more about how you can help do your part to make planet earth a better place for you and your loved ones an eco-awareness talk. To be presented by the branch’s chairperson, Rebecca D’Cruz and committee member Ann Armstrong, the talk will be at the mall’s "Pan Tree Food Court" on March 24 at 8pm.
The branch will also set up a booth to inform the public about the society, to get new membersion, and to sell some merchandise.
On March 27, Green Heights Mall has lined up an Earth Hour Concert and Eco Food Bazaar.
Bring along your friends and family members and support this local effort to make our home – Planet Earth a better and liveable home for many years to come.
Love Life, Love Nature
Zora Chan

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Need your information on Recycling

Dear members,

We are going to have a talk on recycling next week Wednesday 24 March at Green Height Mall 8 p.m. Do any of you knows where you can recycle items like plastic, tins,glass,batteries etc here in Kuching? We like to know where they send the items after they collect it from those places where they collect. Do they recycle it in Kuching or do they send it to West Malaysia or another country. Sell it as scrap materials? Who can give us the information????

Please send email before Monday 21st to mnskuching@gmail.com.

Thanks a lot.

MNS Committee

NATURAL SCULPTURES: White apilite streaks intrude into the granite between Donkey Ears and the Ugly Lady.

By Alan Rogers

CLIMATIC change prompted by human activity on our planet, which is witnessed in the melting of alpine glaciers, the diminution of the Greenland ice cap and the Antarctic ice sheet is a common topic more recently named Global Warming. In fact it is as old as the earth, but has accelerated over the last two centuries through industrialisation.
It is evident from erosional and depositional features on Mt Kinabalu in Sabah that during the relatively recent Pleistocene times (only 1.4 million to 10,000 years ago) the mountain was crowned with an ice cap sitting like a skullcap on top of a head.
This ice cap fed fast flowing valley glaciers which followed pre-existing river valleys radiating outwards from the summit. These lobes of ice were squeezed outwards by the pressure of the overlying mass of the main body of ice thus cutting deep valleys.
Towards the end of the Pleistocene (Ice Ages) ice was confined to higher summit levels in small semicircular bowl-like depressions cutting cirques or corries into the surrounding granite. The ice cap was thought to be five square km in area.
WHAT A CLIMB: Polished granite surfaces through ice abrasion and human feet. Labuan Rata Resthouse is seen towards the bottom right.
Evidence of past glaciation may be observed at Paka Cave, where the lower limit of a valley glacier is marked by the glacial melt deposits of a terminal moraine — the result of the glacier bulldozing frost shattered and angular rock fragments before it.
Jagged peaks at Low’s Peak, Donkey Ears and St John’s Peak bear witness of frost shattering, suggesting that these summits extended above the level of the ice cap and are referred to as nunataks — a word derived from the Inuit language in Greenland.
The smoothness of the granite on the fixed rope area towards the summit and the scratches (striations) caused by the sand papering effect of the ground moraine embedded in the base of the advancing glaciers bear witness to ice movement. Interestingly these striations criss-cross each other suggesting changes in the direction of the ice flows at different times in the Pleistocene.

The notorious Low’s Gully — a frightening drop of 1,524 metres — is typical of a trough where several spill glaciers from the ice cap converged to increase the ice velocity and thus its erosive force to cut out such a deep chasm. There the ice exploited a huge fault in the granite thus creating the near vertical rock walls.
Koopmans and Strauffer (1966) noted that above 3,350 metres the summit areas consist of curved horns and spires hence the ‘toothy’ profile of the mountain. There is the possibility of unidentified glacial moraines on the lower slopes of the mountain towards Kundasang. Glaciologists have yet to accomplish a full analysis of this area.
When the glaciers finally melted here in Sabah, only 3,000 years ago, mud flows containing frost shattered boulders of granite and sandstone flowed down the mountain and covered the surrounding area with deep deposits of mud and rock debris. These can be observed in Kundasang where the beds are 140 metres deep and on the Pinosuk Plateau.
What evidence is there of recent weathering, since the Pleistocene, on Mt Kinabalu? Certainly at Low’s Peak there are scree accumulations of angular frost shattered rock fragments with evidence of ice in frozen pools below. Water enters the joints in the granite, freezes and expands prising the rock apart. Continuous freeze/ thaw action leads to the further development of these joints. Add to this chemical weathering processes, which decompose the feldspar and mica crystals in the granite to break down the rock into clays. This is exacerbated by the high annual rainfall on the mountain with 2,750 millimetres per annum at 1,524 metres and over 5,000 millimetres on the summit.

Mt Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, is occupied on its summit by fast-shrinking glaciers and is a present day model, at 1,220 metres higher than Mt Kinabalu, for the activities that once existed some 3,000 years ago on our tropical mountain in Sabah.
Like Mt Kinabalu, Mt Kilimanjaro is regularly climbed by tourists and adventurers. Had there not been climatic change, the summits and toothy profile of Mt Kinabalu would not be there and thus tourism would be absent. The fact that humans are influencing climate change is undeniable but as seen on Mt Kinabalu there is climate changed without human intervention. The evidence may be seen by an observant and discerning eye for a mountain.
References: Kinabalu — Summit of Borneo (The Sabah Society Monograph, Kinabalu, 1978); Cpt 4 Geomorphology by Lynn C Myers; Cpt.5 Geology by Gerry Jacobson; Geology and Topography of Kinabalu National Park by DV Jenkins; Berita Palanchang Vol II, No.1, p8 1972; Glacial phenomena on Mt Kinabalu, Sabah by B N Koopmans and P H Strauffer (Borneo Reg Malaysia Geol Surv Bull 1 1967).

My garden birdwatch surfey


Mark your calendars!


Be part of the MASSIVE, first ever nationwide bird survey of its kind in Malaysia! MY GARDEN BIRDWATCH is a survey for everyone, couch potatos and city slickers, you and me.

Just go to a local patch of your choice -- gardens, parks, housing estates, cities or the Kampung -- and tell us which birds you see. Survey results will provide information on bird numbers and distribution, which forms the basis for conservation priorities.

Natural events like predation, diseases, earthquakes and climate change, combined with human activities such as urbanisation and forest clearing all have major impact on the wellbeing of many species of birds. We need to better understand how to strike a balance between conservation and development, and we need your help.

Simply check on the garden birds in your area, once a year. Your participation will go a long way. Sign up as a counter now! 

Monday, March 15, 2010

Invitation To Attend IBEC Seminar Series (Lunch Hour Talk) On 24 March 2010

On behalf of the Director of Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental
Conservation (IBEC), UNIMAS, we wish to invite you to attend our Lunch Hour
Talk as follows:-

   Date:      |  24 March 2010 (Wednesday)
   Speaker  : |  Assoc. Prof. Dr Michael(Mike)Lawes from School for
              |  Environmental Research
              |  Leader: Wildlife and Landscapes Theme
              |  Charles Darwin University
              |  Ellengowan Drive,Darwin, Australia
   Topic:     |  “Assessing  the  viability of ecosystem processes in
              |  fragmented  production landscapes – implications for
              |  oil palm plantations.”
   Time:      |  1:00pm – 2:00pm (Lunch Hour Talk),
   Venue:     |  Tutorial   Room  5,  Level  G,  IBEC/FRST  Building,
              |  Universiti Malaysia Sarawak

Please confirm your attendance by sending an email to : tsendi@ibec.unimas.my
Lunch Hour Talk (1-2pm) on 24 March 2010 (Wednesday) at TR5, Faculty of Resources Sciences/IBEC Building

Speakers Background:  
Administrative responsibilities within the School of Biological and Conservation Sciences (UKZN) included the preparation, co-ordination and running of the 2nd and 3rd year ecology field courses (10 days duration), computer related issues in the department, the curriculum structure and co-ordination of the Honours course from 1997-1999, Zoology Programme Director 2000-2001, and coordination of a new course-work masters degree in African Ecology and Conservation biology.
      At Charles Darwin University (2007 onward) I am a member of academic board and have served as acting head of school where necessary. I am currently the theme leader for the Wildlife and Landscape Sciences theme. 
Community service/development:
I previously directed the Forest Biodiversity Research Unit at the University of KwaZulu-Natal. The Forest Biodiversity Research Unit was committed to community welfare and improving the quality of life of local peoples by studying both the ecological processes that maintain indigenous forest and forest biodiversity and rural socio-economics and the use of forest resources.  Through the unit I have been actively involved in community-based outreach programmes for sustainable development. I have participated in the Ongoye Forest Ecotourism Development Committee, which included members of the local community, conservation agencies, town council and the regional tourism authority. See also Report No. 5, Obiri and Lawes (1997). We have conducted livelihood analyses for forest-based users in a number of forests (Mt Thesiger, E. Cape; Ongoye, KwaZulu-Natal; iGxalingenwa, KwaZulu-Natal; KwaYili, KwaZulu-Natal; Thathe, Limpopo province).
 In my role as theme leader of Wildlife and Landscape Sciences in the School for Environmental Research at Charles Darwin University, I am intimately involved in developing research projects that serve the needs of the community in northern Australia.
Tropical deforestation continues at around 13 million hectares per year. This and other land-use change in the tropics contributes greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, reduces the ability of forest to regulate climates, and threatens many species that are known only from tropical rain forests. Over the past 28 years the Center for Tropical Forest Science has implemented a standardized system for monitoring the diversity and dynamics of tropical forests. Thirty-four plots of 16-148 hectares have been established in 20 countries across the Americas, Africa, Asia, and Europe. Every tree with a stem diameter !]1 cm is mapped, measured, identified, and monitored. This international collaboration, involving hundreds of scientists from dozens of institutions, is now monitoring the growth and survival of 3.5 million trees in over 8,200 species (C over 15% of all known tropical tree species. These data provide a basis for determining: (i) forces maintaining diversity, and (ii) the response of trees and forest ecosystems to the Earth!/s changing climate. In this talk, I will discuss some of the key findings of the global network and describe progress with expanding the network to temperate forests.

Friday, March 12, 2010

MNS Kuching Branch Bird Group Raptor Identification Workshop (20-21 March 2010)

Can you count how many raptors and what species they are? Came and learn from experts on how to identify raptors at rest and in flight.

The Malaysian Nature Society – Kuching Branch Bird Group is pleased to announce the Raptor Identification (ID) Workshop to be held in Kuching on 20-21 March 2010. 

The Workshop will be conducted by Mr. Aun Tiah who is a very experience birder and raptor watcher from Selangor.  He will be assisted by two other very experience assistants from MNS Selangor Branch Bird Group.

The workshop is a follow up from a very successful Raptor Workshop organized by ARRCN (Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network) recently held in Kuching which covered the general aspect of the raptor research works in Asian.  This raptor workshops aims at those who are interested to learn how to identify raptors especially when they are in flight.

Raptors in flight sometimes give a bird watcher only a few seconds to identify.  To assist in raptor identification, Aun Tiah will talk about a raptor’s anatomy and plumage, wing shape and markings, tail shape and markings, and flight-pattern that raptor watchers used to identify raptors.

The talk will focus on resident raptors as well as some migratory species that are likely to be encountered in Sarawak.  This classroom session will be held on the evening of 20 March 2010 (Saturday) at Samajaya Nature Reserve from 7:30pm – 9:00pm.

A field practice session will be held on Sunday morning, 21 March at Kubah National Park from 8:30am – 10:30am.

Participation to the workshop is FREE for members.  Non members are welcome to join the workshop for a token fees of RM5/- which will go towards conservation.

For further information and registration, please contact Susan Teal at 012-8551799 (sueteal2006@gmail.com) or Anthony Wong at 013-8333163 (antwong@sareaga.com).

Aun Tiah recording the counts during Raptor Watch at Tanjung Tuan.