23 February 2012 | last updated at 12:34am
Raptor Watch takes flight for 13th straight year
MALACCA: Raptor Watch, one of the region's biggest bird-watching events, promises yet another exciting spectacle this year.
Organised by the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) in partnership with the Malacca government, the event will take place for the 13th straight year at PNB Ilham Resort, near Tanjung Tuan, on March 10 and 11.
Every year, spectators get to see thousands of raptors, also known as birds of prey, migrate north to their breeding grounds in Siberia, China, the Korean peninsula and Japan from their winter refuge in the south.
Tanjung Tuan, which is gazetted as a forest reserve, is the nearest landfall across the Straits of Malacca from Indonesia and is an important site for the birds to rest or catch thermals before continuing on their journey.
Due to its importance to migratory birds, the 60ha site is designated as an important bird area by Birdlife International.
MNS conserves the forest reserve by promoting Raptor Watch, through which it raises awareness of raptors and the need to conserve their habitat.
Visitors come from Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines and Thailand. Last year, about 2,000 turned up.
This year, MNS hopes to get even more spectators to take part in activities, which include guided walks, eco-talks, games, arts and crafts, an obstacle course and a treasure hunt.
MNS head of communications Andrew Sebastian said last year's raptor count went up to 57,000 birds over more than 40 days.
"This year, we have spotted 141 raptors, which may seem like a small number, but this is a good sign, as it means the birds will come in big numbers in March."
For details, visit http://mnsrw2012.wordpress.com