Indonesia: Bird migration used to show importance of conservation

Syamsul Huda M.Suhari The Jakarta Post 26 Sep 16;

From places as far as Alaska in the US, they fly more than 10,000 kilometers to the southwest to reach Lake Limboto in Gorontalo, northern Sulawesi.

Many others fly to the same destination from places in Europe, Africa and Asia.

The migrating birds stop over at Lake Limboto annually between September and October.

To celebrate the natural phenomenon, local environmentalist group Gorontalo Biodiversity Forum organized an event called the Migratory Bird Festival at the biggest freshwater lake in the province.

Rosyid Azhar, a leader of the forum, said the festival — the first event to celebrate the migratory birds — was aimed at raising public awareness about the importance of maintaining the lake, its ecosystem and wildlife.

He said he and fellow environmentalists had been observing the arrival of migratory birds for the past four years at the lake, which is shrinking.

“The poaching of migratory birds at Lake Limboto remains rife, as almost every day you can see people carrying air rifles and the birds they kill,” he said.

The festival includes activities to observe and identify the types of birds stopping over at the lake. There are also film screenings and a media campaign to educate people and students about the lake and its importance to wildlife.

Based on the group’s observation, the water bird species visiting Lake Limboto in August consisted of sandpipers from northern Europe and northern Asia that migrate to South Asia and Australia.

They also include large flower snipes from Africa and Pakistan and Madagascar snipes that fly to the East to China, southeast Russia and Japan, the Philippines, Southeast Asia, the Greater Sunda islands, the Lesser Sunda islands and Australia.

They also include the glossy ibis, which is widely spread and also found in South Kalimantan.

In 2015, Rosyid, who is also a photographer, found a curlew sandpiper with a foot tag bearing the image of the flag of Victoria, Australia, in Lake Limboto.

The curlew sandpiper has been taken as evidence that Lake Limboto is the path of migratory birds from one hemisphere to the other.

Iwan Hunowu, from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), reported the finding to the Australian Wader Study (AWS) Group, to get information about the birds’ migration route.

“Roger Standen of the Australasian Wader Study Group confirmed the bird species observed in Lake Limboto originated from Victoria,” he said.

The AWS estimated that the migratory bird traveled 4,795 km from the initial tagging location in Victoria.

“They were very grateful for the report of the finding from Gorontalo Biodiversity Forum, because it is considered significant for scientific and conservation objectives,” said Iwan.

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