Success story for milky storks in Taiping

Milky storks foraging for food in a flooded field at the Taiping Lake Gardens. The grey bird is a fledgling.

Milky storks foraging for food in a flooded field at the Taiping Lake Gardens. The grey bird is a fledgling.

THE project to release endangered milky storks within the confines of the Taiping Zoo and Night Safari’s grounds is starting to show results.

Zoo director Dr Kevin Lazarus said about five to six nests have been spotted high up in trees within the zoo.

“We have seen some fledglings flying out of the nests, while some other adult birds have began nesting, a sign they were getting ready to breed and lay eggs.

“With the birds nesting within the grounds of the zoo, they can be seen at the nearby Taiping Lake Gardens during the day. At night they come back to the zoo,” he said.

Lazarus said, just recently he spotted 12 milky storks and one fledgling at the Lake Gardens.

“We are hoping to get more of these endangered birds within the Taiping area, and hopefully they can later spread to the Kuala Gula bird sanctuary in Kerian.

“Currently these birds feel safe in the zoo area, but the population of the birds Kuala Gula is dwindling,” he added.

He said under the conservation programme started between 10 and 12 years ago, the zoo successfully bred 40 milky storks in captivity.

Zoo Negara and Singapore’s Jurong Bird Park provided the birds for the programme.

“Once the breeding was successful, we felt it was time to release the storks to increase the endangered species.

“So now the public is able to view the milky storks at the zoo’s aviary, as well as in the wetlands.

“It is really nice to see that the efforts to increase the population of the birds is showing positive results,” he added.

In 2014, Lazarus had said that burung botak upeh, the local name for the endangered milky stork is nearly extinct, and the Kuala Gula mangrove forest is the only place where the bird could be sighted in the wild in Malaysia.

About 25 years ago, there were more than 100 of the species, but the number of these birds has dwindled over the years.

Lazarus said the number declined significantly due to poaching, habitat loss and predators such as eagles and monitor lizards eating the eggs.

Perak , Taiping Zoo , milky storks