KUCHING: The Sarawak International Bird Race will be back in September, taking participants to three important and diverse areas in Kuching.
Organised by the state Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry in collaboration with Malaysian Nature Society, Kuching branch, the race will start on Sept 24 at the coastal village of Buntal Bay and stop at Kubah National Park.
The following day, participants will complete the last leg at Borneo Highlands Resort, nestled along the Sarawak-Kalimantan border in the Penrissen highlands.
The race is timed to concide with the start of the migration of birds from their northern breeding grounds in Siberia, South Korea, Mongolia and Russia to southern overwintering grounds. Some birds overwinter in Sarawak but many continue further south.
Buntal Bay is recognised as a major stopover and refuelling site for migratory birds due to its nutrient-rich mudflats, sandflats and mangrove forests.
At Kubah National Park, where Gunung Serapi is located, the mixed dipterocarp forest hosts many species of birds endemic to Sarawak.
In the final leg, participants will count birds at the resort, which is home to different species.
Noting that birding is a popular hobby around the world, the ministry’s permanent secretary Datuk Ik Pahon Joyik said the race was part of efforts to develop birding as a niche tourism product in Sarawak.
He also said it would create awareness and appreciation for birds and nurture a sense of responsibility for the environment.
The race will contribute to scientific knowledge too as the data collected will be incorporated into a database for bird populations.
The Sarawak International Bird Race is an opportunity for experienced and novice birders to improve their identification skills while making useful contributions.