Birding expert to talk on forest species

BIRDING enthusiasts can take the opportunity to learn more about the birds of peninsular Malaysia at a special talk by renowned bird expert, Dr David Wells, happening tomorrow.

The talk, titled “What are they doing and where are they going? A few ideas about forest birds arising from long-term field studies in Malaysia”, will focus on the theory behind extinction risk, nature reserves and the future of Malaysia’s forest bird communities.

It will also be a fresh look at some of the results of the late 1960s to 1970s night migration study at Fraser’s Hill, focusing particularly on forest pigeons.

“There are more than 600 species of birds in peninsular Malaysia, shared with Borneo and Sumatra, and 60% of these are found in lowland forests.

“Many of these are found nowhere else in the world and unique species are also being discovered using DNA analysis.

“However, these lowland forests are diminishing at an extraordinary rate because of development which is causing a devastating effect on the bird population.

“The current land use policies are putting these birds at great risk of extinction,” he said.

Wells added that the presentation would also touch on conservation through a scientific basis and preservation on a national level.

British-born Wells came to Malaya in 1961 as a graduate student in the University of Malaya Zoology Department.

After a stint lecturing in Nigeria in the mid-‘60s, he returned to join the department as an employee in 1967 and was one-time treasurer for Malaysian Nature Society as well as the Selangor branch chairman.

He was also a one-time trustee of WWF Malaysia and chairman of Asian Wetland Bureau and the author of The Birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula.

The talk will be held in conjunction with the launch of The Birds of the Forests of Peninsular Malaysia: A Photographic Guide by Dr Rosli Omar.

Six years in the making, Rosli said the book is focused on forest and forest edge birds to emphasise the threats they face, given their habitats’ destruction.

“The idea (behind the book) was so readers would come to love the birds and would want to conserve them and thus conserve the forests,” he said.

Rosli was a lecturer at the Universiti Malaya Department of Electrical Engineering until 2012.

When he was diagnosed with glaucoma and fearing a deterioration to his eyesight, he decided to focus on what he loved most – birdwatching and rambling in the forests. He decided to start photographing the birds for posterity since they were declining fast and has been birding for 20 years.

The event will take place tomorrow, at Wisma WIM, 7, Jalan Abang Haji Openg, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, from 9am to 11am. Admission is free.

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