JOHOR BARU: The Milky Stork, an endangered species last sighted in Johor before Independence, has returned.
Bird watchers from the Johor branch of the Malaysian Nature Society(MNS) claimed to have spotted up to 40 of these birds recently, together with nine Painted Storks, over 150 Grey Herons and an unidentified pelican at Pasir Pelangi here.
The Milky Stork (Mycteria cinerea) is known as the burung upeh in Malay.
When contacted, MNS Johor advisor Vincent Chow said Birdlife International and the National Red List for Birds had listed the stork as a threatened species in Asia.
“Based on past records, the bird was last sighted at the Benut Forest Reserve in 1956.
“There were no records of any sightings after that.
“The best explanation is that the birds could have migrated from Sumatra, where they are also found,” he said, adding that the storks seen at Pasir Pelangi were unlikely to be escaped birds from the Singapore Zoo.
In a Sept 23 dated article on Fatbirder (http://www.fatbirder.com), MNS Scientific Officer (Ornithology) Yeap Chin Aik said that human interference in nesting colonies, mangrove habitat loss and poaching had caused the stork population to dwindle.
He said in the article that there were an estimated 5,550 Milky Storks in the world today, with the bulk in Indonesia (5,000 in Sumatra and 400 in west Java).
The rest could be found in Malaysia and at Cambodia’s Tonle Sap lake area, he said.
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