FRASER’S HILL: A total of 28 teams, armed with binoculars, took to hilly terrain over two days to spot and record species of birds found in this hill resort as part of the 23rd International Bird Race recently.
In the end, teams from Singapore took the top two spots in the advanced category while the trio from Japan won the novice category.
Team Iora of Singapore comprising Sutari Supari, Ali Jaafar and Rehan Yusoff emerged winners after they spotted 73 species of birds.
Their efforts earned them RM450, a challenge trophy, medals, binoculars, hampers and books.
In second place was team Sittas, also from Singapore, who spotted 69 species of birds while locals, Flycatcher of Taman Negara came third with a sighting of 67 species.
Four consolation prizes went to team SMO (60 species), Jungle Lalla (59), Cutia (58) and Kekicau Riang (55).
Ali said it was the sixth time he teamed up with Sutari and Rehan and won the annual race.
He said using past experiences and knowledge on birds to their advantage, they had expected to finish among the top three this year.
“We will be back next year to defend our trophy and hope more birders will give us a stiffer challenge,” he said.
In the novice category, Seagull Birder from Japan was first with 29 species, Kenyalang second (28) and Korea Birder third (26).
Consolation prizes went to Hawk Eagle (19) and Barau Barau (9).
Chief arbitrator Mohd Raffi Abd Kudus, who is also the bird conservation council chairman of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), said two special categories were introduced this year.
He said the youngest participant was an 11-year-old girl from Cameron Highlands and the special participation award was presented to Korea Birders.
“This year, we deployed more marshalls on the ground to follow and keep track of the participants.
“Overall, we are delighted with the participation which cap another successful chapter of the event into its 23rd year,” he said.
Among the other foreign teams which took part were from Sweden, United Kingdom and Thailand.
Pahang Tourism, Arts, Heritage, Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Datuk Shafik Fauzan Sharif was present to flag off the event, accompanied by Fraser’s Hill Development Corporation general manager Datuk Md Hanafiah Abd Talib and Pahang Tourism Ministry Office director Idros Yahya.
Other side activities held included a singing contest, treasure hunt and a video presentation by bird enthusiast Tee Lian Huat.
Shafik Fauzan also visited the newly constructed RM200,000 bird interpretive centre that would serve as the new landmark at the hill resort, also known as “Little England.”
“Fraser’s Hill is often been referred to as a premier birdwatching destination in this region, as some 275 species of birds are spotted during the migratory season.
“We aim to make this event even bigger next year,” he said, adding that the Government had spent RM23mil to upgrade facilities here under the 9th Malaysia Plan.
Later, Shafik Fauzan launched a checklist of bird species in peninsular Malaysia while Mohd Raffi presented the certification from Bird Life International to Md Hanafiah in recognition of Fraser’s Hill as an important bird area.
Tourism services division secretary of the Tourism Ministry, Rashidi Hasbullah represented Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen in closing the event and presenting prizes to the winners.