Development along Johor coastline affecting bird migration: Malaysian Nature society

Mohd Farhaan Shah The Star/Asia News AsiaOne 28 Sep 14;

JOHOR BARU, Malaysia - The massive developments taking place along the Johor coastline may affect the annual migration of thousands of birds that flocked here from East Asia to Australia, says the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS).

MNS Johor branch chairman Vincent Chow said migratory birds usually choose Johor to escape the winter cold of China, South Korea and Japan.

"The birds usually begin their thousand-mile journey when winter is near in East Asia and they travel south by using the East Asia-Australia "flyway".

"Once it is spring, which is between February and March, they will then make their return journey up north as food such as insects would be plenty for them there," he said in an interview here yesterday.

Chow said that the number of migratory birds here have dwindled over the last few years, especially along Danga Bay and Pontian.

He pointed out that migratory birds, such as the storm storks, could usually be found along the riverbeds at Danga Bay or even near Sungai Masai as the birds feed on small crabs, fish and mudskippers.

Chow also said that the massive development along those areas have influenced the ecosystem where food becomes scarce for these birds.

"Efforts must be made not only by the Johor government, but also the developers involved in the projects to ensure that the ecosystem will be maintained.

"The migration of birds is a crown jewel to Malaysia as bird-watching has become a huge tourism magnet," he added.

Chow said about 5,000 bird watching enthusiasts from here and overseas would converge in the state during the migratory period.

"Such activities are a big draw to people from Australia, the United States, Europe and East Asian countries.

"Birds have been migrating from East Asia to Australia for thousands of years, and it is a shame if they dwindle because of human interference," he said.