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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Sarawak Nature Festival and the Sarawak Bird Race 2012

By Ann Armstrong

The Kuching Branch of the Malaysian Nature Society and Borneo Highlands Resort are organizing the two-day Sarawak Nature Festival 2012 at the resort on Saturday September 29 and Sunday September 30.

The featured item of this festival is the Sarawak Bird Race 2012 which will be flagged off at 2.00pm from the Borneo Highlands Resort Clubhouse. The race will come to a close 22 hours later on Sunday at 12noon.

The bird race is the main event of the Sarawak Nature Festival 2012, but a number of exciting nature-based, family-orientated activities are planned for the two-day event. On Saturday afternoon visitors can choose to join guided nature walks or attend photography workshops; in the evening star gazing and weather permitting a night walk. On Sunday they can learn to make hand cream from natural ingredients, join guided walks and attend more workshops. Plus there are activities aimed at the junior members.

The Resort Manager of the Borneo Highlands Resort, Zakaria Ismail is excited about this event as it should increase awareness about nature and the importance of birds. Borneo Highlands Resort is dedicated to the conservation of the nature and environment.

The Penrissen Highlands was recognized as an Important Bird Area in 2010 as it hosts several endemic and endangered species. Sightings of eight of the endemic Bornean species have been documented at the Borneo Highlands Resort include exciting species such Bornean Barbet ('Megalaima exima'), Blue-banded Pitta ('Pitta arquata') as well endangered trophy species such as the Black Hornbill ('Anthracoceros albirostris').
The Penrissen Highlands is one of the 55 Important Bird Areas in Malaysia. The recognition of these areas have many benefits beyond birds, however, bird populations, including species diversity and numbers, are an indicator of an area's ecological health. Society benefits as these wild or semi-wild areas can act rich ecological niches in the species poor environments created by man. Plus they can play important roles in the natural cycles, for example water, carbon and nitrogen.

The organizing Chairman from the Malaysian Nature Society, Vincent Wong believes 'Understanding and appreciating Nature is understanding and appreciating ourselves. Without nature we all wither. Save them to save ourselves and our children.' The Sarawak Nature Festival and Bird Race provide a venue to develop this appreciation. Furthermore that our, despite our ability to moderate microenvironments of homes and other buildings, is dependant on nature and we should not forget this.

The students at Sarawak campus Swinburne University got first hand experience in creating environmental awareness when they worked through the extend process of creating the designs for the event and participating in one of the activity, the natural hand cream demonstration. The Sarawak Nature Festival is a community affair.

Others share his passion. John Ariffin a well-known Singapore based nature photographer, educator and writer will be joining the event and facilitating a workshop on nature photography. He travels across Asia to document wildlife and cultures of Asia in search of a perfect moment to freeze in time.
On Saturday, September 22 at 2pm at the Sarawak Tourism Complex, which is located on Jalan Tun Abg Hj Openg, Old Court House, an introduction to The Sarawak Nature Festival and the Sarawak Bird Race 2012 is being organized. Visitors to this introduction will have the opportunity to learn more about birds and the festival.

The Sarawak Nature Festival and the Sarawak Bird Race 2012 is sure to be fun and educational for all members of the family. For further information go to the website at birdrace2012.borneohighlands.com.my or Facebook Page at www.facebook.com/sarawakbirdrace. Special rates at the Borneo Highlands Resort are available for participants, but book early.

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