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Monday, July 26, 2010

Malaysian Nature Society Kuching Branch's Photos - MNSKB 14th AGM cum 70th Anniversary Roadshow, part . photo's taken by Ren Min and Anthony Sebastian

siging in
Q &;A session on "Nature-based Tourism in Sarawak" by Philip Yong

Kwan presented a souvenir to Phillip Yong.
Kwan presented a souvenir to President of MNS Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor.

Malaysian Nature Society Kuching Branch's Photos - MNSKB 14th AGM cum 70th Anniversary Roadshow, part 1. photo's taken by Ren Min and Anthony Sebastian

Our new Branch Committee for the term 2010-2011 will be led by Cheong Ah Kwan. The Branch's vice chairman is Yeo Siew Teck; Secretary, Sunita Shamsul; Treasurer, Jacinta Wong-Schneider; and six Committee Members Cynthia Hazebroek, Dr Chin Saw Sian, Chi'en Chi'en Lee, Rahim Bugo, Donald Tan and Lim Jin Bing. Collin Cheong has been appointed as the branch's internal auditor. Congratulations to your new appointment.

President of MNS Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor.
Immediate past chairperson Rebecca d'Cruz
Maye Yap, HOD from MNS HQ presenting d MNS rules and regulations.

Kwan presented a souvenir to Rebecca from Committee and Members
MNS T-shirts are selling like hot-cake.

Changing Beaches

HIDING: Some animals like crabs go underground to avoid the extremes of unfriendly beach ecosystems

By Mary Margaret

SUN, sand and sea — what do these words mean to us? Do we think of holidays by the sea, seaside resorts, diving, snorkelling or walking into the sunset along a never-ending white sand beach?
Beaches, however, arehostile environments for plants, animals and other living creatures.
They change constantly with the tides rushing in and running; blowing sand; strong winds; and the creatures, which inhabit the transitional zones between land and water, have to adjust to the unvarying variation.

CHANGING: The succession of a beach habitat can be seen in this picture. Near the water there are no plants; a few metres in pioneer creepers and Rhu Laut seedlings colonise; and slighter farther inland pure stands of the graceful Rhu laut trees sway in the wind. caption
GET A GRIP: Primary succession occurs when plants colonise new habitats such as beaches. Flotsam, biodegradable and non-biodegradable materials, which land on beaches, pioneer plant species create niches. One of the first colonisers is the vine Ipomoea pes-caprae and it covers sandy beaches with long vines and fibrous spreading roots that hold the sand in place.
NEW RESIDENT: Beach pioneer species have special adaptations which enable it to survive potentially being buried by sand, salt water and dehydration. Sand is a course porous material that is prone to drying out. Rhu Laut (Causuarian equisetifolia) is a pioneer tree of tropical beaches. Its shallow spreading roots anchor it in the sand. The narrow needle-like twigs as well as tiny and modified scale-like leaves means it is not prone to drying out. The flowers are not easily seen, but the dark brown cones can be picked up under the pure stands of this tree.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

New Branch Committee Members for the term 2010-2011

Dear members,
On behalf of the Branch Committee for the term 2009-2010 and immediate past chairperson, Rebecca D'Cruz, we would like to record our sincere thanks to you for your continuous support in MNS and its activities. It has been a pleasure serving the branch. We just held our AGM this morning and followed by MNS 70th anniversary roadshow at the Mango Tree Restaurant. Both events went smoothly. Reports and minutes of the AGM would be sent to you all soon in separate emails.
Please be informed that, your new Branch Committee for the term 2010-2011 will be led by Cheong Ah Kwan. The Branch's vice chairman is Yeo Siew Teck; Secretary, Sunita Shamsul; Treasurer, Jacinta Wong-Schneider; and six Committee Members Cynthia Hazebroek, Dr Chin Saw Sian, Chi'en Chi'en Lee, Rahim Bugo, Donald Tan and Lim Jin Bing. Collin Cheong has been appointed as the branch's internal auditor. Congratulations to your new appointment.
We thank the newly elected team for dedicating their time to serve the branch for one year and  all the best to you all.
Love Life, Love Nature
Signing off..... Zora Chan (Secretary 2009-2010)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Invitation to attend talks at MNS roadshow


MEMBERS of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) and the public are invited to the society’s coming roadshow to be held in conjunction with its 70th anniversary.
The roadshow will take place at Mango Tree Restaurant in Crookshank Road, Kuching, on July 24 at 2pm.
During the roadshow, MNS president Tan Sri Dr Salleh Mohd Nor will give a presentation on the anniversary and this will be followed up with MNS 70th anniversary lecture series presented by MNS member Philip Yong at 3pm.
Yong will talk on nature-based tourism in Sarawak. Both talks are open to the public and admission is free.
Prior to the roadshow, the MNS Kuching branch will hold its 14th annual general meeting (AGM) at the restaurant at 11am.
Members are encouraged to attend the AGM and are reminded to renew their membership to be eligible to stand for office and vote.
The branch will also hold a mini nature photography exhibition at Mango Tree Restaurant and MNS merchandise such as reusable shopping bags, T-shirts and books will be on sale.
Established in the 1940, MNS is the oldest scientific and non-governmental organisation in Malaysia.
Its mission is to promote the study, appreciation, conservation and protection of Malaysia’s natural heritage.
It has more than 4,000 members in 13 branches nationwide coming from all walks of life and bound by a common interest in nature. In Sarawak, MNS has branches in Kuching and Miri.
For more information and registration for the talks, send email to mnskuching@gmail.com or visit www.mnskuching.blogspot.com orwww.mns.org.my

Garden Bird of Malaysia booklet FOR SALE at AGM

Only RM  
Please get yourself a nice copy and soon you can identify all the birds in your garden!
For sales enquiries: mnskuching@gmail.com
 (Not available at the moment,sold out)

Special visitor to Kampung Keranggas

FAREWELL: A ngajat is performed prior to the release of the wrinkled hornbill, which is being carried by a villager at second right.

By Victor Luna Amin
A VERY special visitor, a wrinkled hornbill (Aceros corrugates) or Alau Buluh, Kajakoh or Koko in Iban, surprised Kampung Keranggas villagers with a visit on the first day of Gawai Dayak this year.
About 10.30pm that evening, the bird made its historic visit, increasing the joy of the people during the important occasion.
I witnessed the phenomenon as the longhouse folk were celebrating at the ruai or common veranda of Tuai Rumah Tana by having karaoke and fancy dress competitions.
I was at the ruai when my niece’s husband informed me that a hornbill was caught by another niece’s husband.
The bird had been sitting near the gong at the ruai of my brother-in-law. It had been heavily raining.
I could not believe that a wrinkled hornbill had arrived during Gawai Dayak and furthermore chose to sit next to a gong at the ruai of my own longhouse. This was very unusual.
Biologically, this species of hornbill would normally not fly low or at night and never goes near human dwellings.
After it was caught, it continuously called out a deep, echoing ‘kak-kak- kak’. It was very pleasant to have been visited by this lovely and kind bird.
My personal interpretation, as a forester, is that the bird could have been flying all day and tried to find a place to rest while avoiding the heavy rain. And it arrived as a visitor to celebrate Gawai with us.
That evening was full of curiosity and joy among all my family members.
We celebrated with food and drink, and Christian prayers. That night, we bravely slept at the ruai in the company of the hornbill with the hope of having a dream to explain its visit. The wrinkled hornbill is
one of the eight species of hornbills found in Borneo and is a totally protected species under the provision of the Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998.
The penalty for the killing or possession of such birds or part thereof is imprisonment of not more than two years and a fine of RM25,000. High flying adult males
normally stay in tall trees that serve as breeding sites and they always avoid human dwellings.
The male wrinkled hornbill is easily identified by its distinctive throat and bill, and the terminal portion of tail is stained ochre yellow to deep chestnut. Its head and neck are black and white. In the Pantu sub-district,
we have rarely heard or seen this bird for over 10 years. It is a very rare species. Its historic visit to ruai at Kampung Keranggas remains a great mystery and surprise.
The coming of this hornbill was subjected to numerous of interpretations. The locals believe that this is a good bird that signifies a positive future for the people in the area in terms of progress and development; and they all prayed to the Lord that their sincere prayers be heard.
The longhouse folk said that never in the longhouse’s history had such a hornbill come to their longhouse, and what more during Gawai Dayak, and to sit near a gong.
This was truly an amazing and unbelievable experience and we were deeply touched. The majority of the people said that this bird, a creature made by God, signified the spirit of God and it must be treated with respect and released.
As advised by many people, the hornbill was released so that it could return to its community and hopefully tell of his good experience and treatment while celebrating Gawai with the people of Kampung Keranggas. This also conforms with wildlife protection laws and regulations.
The whole longhouse community released the bird on June 2, 2010 at about 11am after prayers.
It was sent off with a ngajat dance. A tag that reads ‘KRG01062010’ was attached to the hornbill’s leg.
Perhaps, this will be a lesson for the future and help us to conserve these birds so we can all see, appreciate and value them.
And the Iban people in Kampung Keranggas, Pantu, have positively contributed to the conservation of wildlife, as shown by the release of this hornbill into the wild.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


P.O. Box A144, Kenyalang Park, 93824 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Tel: 019 8579110 (Rebecca D’Cruz, Chair) & 019 8279881 (Zora Chan, Secretary)
Email: mnskuching@gmail.com

Dear Member,


1.     We are pleased to inform you that the 14th Annual General Meeting of the Malaysian Nature Society – Kuching Branch will be held at:

Venue:                        Mango Tree Restaurant, Jalan Crookshank,
                        Kuching, Sarawak

Date:                        Saturday, 24 July 2009

Time:                        11:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
2.     Agenda for the 14th Annual General Meeting

i.               Chairman’s Welcome Address
ii.              Review of the minutes of the 13th Annual General Meeting and matters arising
iii.            Report from the Chairman
iv.            Report from the Secretary
v.              Report from the Treasurer
vi.            Any other matters which have been brought to the attention of the Secretary of the Kuching Branch, in writing, at least one week before the Annual General Meeting.
vii.           Election of the Office Bearers for the year 2010/2011
viii.         Election of the Internal Auditor

Note: Only fully paid-up members are eligible to stand for Office and to vote. Please remember to renew your subscriptions. You may choose to do so immediately before the start of the AGM.

The AGM documents will be sent out to all members, by ordinary mail to their registered address, no later than one week before the AGM. In order to reduce the amount of paper used, we request that you bring these copies with you for the AGM.

The AGM will be followed by lunch and then the MNS 70th anniversary roadshow, from 2p.m. to 5.30p.m. (please see attached invitation for the roadshow).

Thank you.

Zora Chan
Secretary, MNS-Kuching Branch 2009/2010
9 July 2010

Thursday, July 15, 2010

An overnight stay at Kubah

NO ESCAPE: The group examines frogs. — Photo by Robert Yeoh

IT’S SO DARK: The group members use lights to see the camouflaged creatures and move through the jungle.

Sunita Shamsul

LAST month, I joined 19 others for an overnight trip to Kubah National Park organised by the Kuching Bird Group of the Malaysian Nature Society.

I found myself ‘ooh-iing’ and ‘ah-ing’ at everything I saw and heard. I suppose that was natural for one who is new to bird-watching and frogging. Although saying that, I must admit I have been to a frog-watch, but getting to know those amphibians is rather tricky.
Trying to determine the types of birds with my friends also proved to be hilarious — it could be this, it could be that, but in the end I just gave up to happily sit and enjoy their calls. But we did later find out what they were via mini discussions with the expert birders and photographers. A little drizzle did not hamper my enjoyment at all — after all, we are in the tropics.
The things that did intrigue me were the caterpillars — a friend led me to a small shrub by the road near the hostels. They were of a pretty green shade with light green-white ridges on their backs that reminded me of icing on a cake. They were happily munching on the leaves when we saw them. And they were huge — perhaps 10 to 12 centimetres long. I wonder what they will turn out to be.
So, thinking back about the trip to Kubah National Park makes me smile because it was not just about the types of frogs or birds we saw or heard, or the caterpillars, it was all about enjoying and sharing nature with people.
CAN YOU SEE THEM?: The group moves along the cement path that leads to the summit of Gunung Serapi to catch a glimpse of elusive forest birds. By 10.30am we saw eight of the over 40 species of birds sighted or heard by expert birders Daniel and Yeo.

PRETTY BIRD: The group spotted trogons at the national park. — Photo by Vincent Wong

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Are there leeches

By Mary Margaret
LEECHES or lintah in Malay. The very word is enough to send shivers of terror down the spines of even the bravest. The thought of such creatures inching onto us, sinking their teeth in and sucking in a blood meal is horrifying. It is the stuff of nightmares.
However, if we can overcome our instinctive repulsion, we might begin to wonder about the roles these creatures play in the natural environment.
Are they only predators or are they also prey? Are they intricate components of the food web and the multitude of interlinking cycles of life? Do they bring benefits? Are they related to other animals?
Leeches are invertebrates and a carnivorous type of worm. They are related to the earthworm and belong to Phylum Annelida, Class Hirudinea and Subclass Euhirudinea.
Despite their reputation, they play important roles in a multitude of land, marine and freshwater ecosystems. It is irrelevant that we shudder at the thought of them or base creatures of nightmares on them.
The three orders of leeches are Rhynchobdellae, Gnathobdellae and Pharyngobdellae. Members of Rhynchobdellae are jawless and have a straw-like proboscis (mouth) that can be injected into prey. Members of Pharyngobdellae are toothless worm leeches, which consume their prey whole.
Gnathobdellae have jaws armed with teeth and these are the ones that are of direct interest to us humans, as they are the bloodsuckers. These jawed leeches generally have specific prey — mammals, fish, amphibians, reptiles and birds.
HIRUNDO MEDICINALIS: This native European species has been used for thousands of years by medical practitioners.

Leeches, as an intricate part of the world, not only eat but are also eaten. These creatures are preyed upon mainly by fish and birds.
Like other worms, leeches have segments and are hermaphroditic with both male and female sex organs. Leeches, like other worms, have a clitellum at the side of their body. Glands in this organ secrete a cocoon to protect the eggs. They have well-developed eye spots, ocelli, which help them identify prey. Leeches inch along with suckers at the front and back.
These invertebrates go through metamorphosis — eggs, larvae and finally emerge as adults. Leeches are good parents. The eggs are protected by a cocoon that is produced by citellum that slides of the head, but picks up the fertilised eggs that are along the leech’s body.
HERMAPHRODITES: Like other worms, leeches have both male and female sex organs.

The cocoon is attached to a hard surface. In some species the cocoon becomes hard and dry; in others a spongy layer is formed to prevent dehydration.
Leeches are found in Sarawak’s jungles and with the exception of a single species from Borneo, leech bites are not painful. Leech saliva contains, for example, a number of components that are potentially medically beneficial: antibiotics, anti-coagulant to prolong bleeding and increase permeability of skin.
The most famous leech is the medical leech Hirundo medicinalis, a native European species which is threatened in its original range. This leech has been used for thousands of years and continues to be used by medical practitioners and in order to get sufficient numbers it is farmed.
A newspaper report on April 13, indicated that it might be raised in the Belaga area.
I don’t suppose the next time we walk in the jungle and we observe a leech standing and waving looking for prey, that we will be keen on being preyed on to join the many interlinking food webs, but that is life.

Garden invaders

TASTY DRINK: Sunbirds use their long beaks to extract nectar and insects from flowers.
ByAlan Rogers
RECENTLY when reading an article on the frequent incursions of urban foxes into houses and the mutilation of two babies inside a London house, my mind turned to the large number of feral dogs who hunt in packs of up to nine in Kuching.
The very same day, I picked out a copy from my library of the first edition book, published in 1916, of ‘A Naturalist in Borneo’ written by Robert WG Shelford, who was one of the earliest curators of The Sarawak Museum.In a chapter entitled ‘Bird-Life’, he wrote about the Sunbird family with plates depicting and distinguishing the variety of nests of this bird group. My mind returned to the pleasurable intruders in my garden in Kuching during my frequent visits to Sarawak and their nesting habits.
Early in the morning until 11am, these humming-like birds hovered over a synthetic plant hanging under the window canopy, gradually building an elongated nest, which tapered downwards and was carefully woven from dead leaves, moss and bits of discarded string. The nest was completed in under a week with a small porch interwoven above the entrance hole to deflect the rain.
Occasionally, the birds would stop for a rest and, with their long beaks, extract nectar and insects from the heliconia plants in the garden. From 11am to 3pm in the heat of the day, the pair would cease their work only to continue again for an hour. To predators, the nest resembled that of a wasp.
Once the nest was completed, the birds disappeared for a week to then return, lay and incubate two eggs.The chicks hatched within 10 days and during the incubation period both birds would take turns sitting. Once the chicks arrived, the parents, again taking turns, would zoom off towards the secondary forest and the neighbour’s gardens, then return to feed their nestlings.
Within two weeks of hatching, all birds had flown off ... but a pair returned later in the year to build a parallel nest alongside the old one. These birds are Olive- backed Sunbirds otherwise known as Yellow-bellied Sunbirds (Cinnyris jugularis). My birds hovered over the heliconias whilst drawing nectar from the flowers.
THE NESTS: To predators, Sunbird nests resemble that of wasps.

Their bright yellow under parts and the metallic blue forehead, throat and upper breast splashed much active colour into my garden. It is recorded that these birds were originally confined to mangrove swamps but with much land reclamation and subsequent urbanisation, they are now frequently seen in our gardens.
Sadly my front garden had to be demolished to make way for a new car porch and that, I thought, was the end of my colourful and acrobatic friends; fortunately I transplanted all the heliconias in my back garden and the artificial hanging plants. Sure enough, they returned to the back of the house the following year and nested again.
My feathered friends should not be confused with Spiderhunters of the genus Arachnothera, which like the Sunbirds belong to the Nectariniidae family. The Bornean spiderhunter is also a frequent visitor to our suburban gardens and also build similar shaped nests.
Oh to see such flamboyant fliers in my garden deep in the countryside in southwest England, although this summer I have witnessed a Blue Parakeet and a Lesser Green Woodpecker. Recently, my garden even received a visitation from an escaped herd of cattle.
I look forward to seeing my Sarawakian sunbirds again and am so pleased that they nest in such a way as to deter other garden intruders such as feral dogs and pythons.
For more see ‘A Naturalist In Borneo’ by Robert WG Shelford and ‘Sunbirds’ by Cheke, Mann and Allen at www.naturia.per.sg.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Branch AGM and Roadshow

Dear MNS Kuching Branch members,

Please mark your calendar for our annual branch AGM and the MNS 70th anniversary roadshow to be held as follows:

Date/Day: 24th July 2010/Saturday
Time: 11a.m. to 5.30p.m. (lunch to be served at 12:30p.m.)
Venue: Mango Tree Restaurant, Jalan Crookshank, Kuching

Attached, you will find the AGM notice as well as the two files about the 70th anniversary roadshow.

Both events are very important ones in our calendar for 2010, and we hope that you will be able to join us as we review our progress this past year at the branch AGM, and then celebrate the fact that we are members of the oldest nature conservation organization in the country!

Please confirm your attendance by return email no later than 16th July 2010, so that your committee can confirm the logistical arrangements for the day.

Thank you.

Rebecca D'Cruz
Chairman 2009/2010
MNS-Kuching Branch