Asian Waterbird Census with the Pulau Ketam Community

By Mr Woo Chee Yoong, Wildlife RA of the Malaysian Nature Society

On the 15th until 19th of January, 2018, I was given the opportunity to engage the Pulau Ketam community in the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) activity. The first task was to survey about the island community’s knowledge and interests in waterbirds. The second task was getting the community to be involved in the Asian Waterbird Census, AWC.

Together with my MNS colleague, Ms. Agnes Loh, a local resident who is in-charge of the waste management project and Kelab Pencinta Alam (MNS School Nature Club) in Pulau Ketam, we went around the houses, shops, restaurants, secondary school and interviewed 100 villagers. I was lucky to meet some friendly and helpful members from the Chinese Chess Society (CCS) and they helped introduce me to the villagers, especially the fishermen who even took me on a boat ride for the roost site survey. On the second night, they spotted a few waterbirds at the jetty and informed me on the spot.

The following weekend on the 28th of January was an introduction on AWC to the villagers. 16 villagers, with a majority of secondary school students, joined myself, Agnes and two MNS Selangor Branch bird group members, Mr. Low Kok Hen and Mr. Tang Tuck Hong. The two birders provided experiential knowledge of waterbirds to the villagers. We went out to the surrounding Klang Islands during low tide. The boatman brought us to a few good high roost sites.

Overall from the survey, we found that the most waterbirds were Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus), Common Redshank (Tringa totanus) and Common Tern (Sterna hirundo). We also counted 28 Lesser Adjutant (Leptoptilos javanicus). This is a listed Vulnerable species and the finding of this habitat is a crucial discovery. Other waterbirds recorded were the Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos), Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia), Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata), Common Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica), Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybrida), Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea), Green-backed Heron (Butorides striata), Little Egret (Egretta garzetta) and Great Egret (Ardea alba). Besides waterbirds, there were lots of Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) circling around evening sky may be due to the tourism activity of raptor feeding. In my opinion, this is not an ethical way to promote tourism. It could disrupt the behaviour of the Brahminy Kite by feeding. Other than that, House Crow (Corvus splendens) can be heard everywhere in the village because of the accumulated rubbish without a proper solid waste disposal system and the villagers always complain of the noises these crows made. The other birds documented were Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris), Blue-tailed Bee-eater (Merops philippinus), Rock Pigeon (Columba livia) and Large-billed Crow (Corvus macrorhynchos).      

“It is not the bird watching skills that matters, but it is the interest and passion that we must instill inside each villager that counts. I hoped what we have done so far can help to inspire more villagers to volunteer their time in conservation, especially the youths that turned during the AWC. They are the ones who hold the future of this wildlife, if not them, who else? Thus, I would like to express my highest appreciation to MNS and all the warm-hearted Pulau Ketam community for the successful event held” mentioned Woo.   

Mangrove forest surrounding Pulau Ketam during the high tide.

Fishermen boats at their own houses in Pulau Ketam.

Abundant of crabs found at the jetty mudflat in Pulau Ketam that create the name for this village.

Rubbish under the houses in Pulau Ketam.

Members of the Pulau Ketam Chinese Chess Society.

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