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Malaysia Bird Reports
In September 2004, Ben King and Dennis Yong found and made the first tape recordings of Dulit Frogmouth Batrachostomus harterti in the mountains of eastern Sarawak. In August 2003, Ben saw Bornean Peacock-Pheasant Polyplectron schleiermacheri and Bornean Ground-Cuckoo Carpococcyx radiatus in southeast Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo.
A provisional sighting of the Silvery Pigeon on the Talang Talang Islands, Sarawak, Malaysia. Kerry-Jayne Wilson, BirdingASIA 1(2004):55-56. The possible Columba argentina was associating with a flock of Pied Imperial Pigeons on Pulau Talang Besar, the larger of the Talang Talang Islands, off the southwest corner of Sarawak. There have been no confirmed records of this critically endangered species since 1931. (BirdingASIA is the new incarnation of the OBC Bulletin.)
"The Hierococcyx fugax, Hodgson's Hawk-Cuckoo, complex" by Ben F. King. Bull. B.O.C.  122(1):74-80. Based on a detailed analysis of voices and plumages, Ben King has re-split Hodgson's Hawk-Cuckoo into four species: Northern Hawk-Cuckoo, H. hyperythrus; Philippine Hawk-Cuckoo, H. pectoralis; Hodgson's Hawk-Cuckoo, H. nisicolor; and Malaysian Hawk-Cuckoo, H. fugax.
For a comprehensive review of distributional records and details of the known natural history of Bornean Ground-Cuckoo, see "Distribution, status and natural history of the Bornean Ground-Cuckoo Carpococcyx radiatus" by A.J. Long and N.J. Collar, Forktail 18 (2002): 111-119. Like the Neotropical Neomorphus ground-cuckoos, it is a well-known follower of wild pigs, and it recently has been found to follow Sun Bears.
David Bishop saw, heard and taped Bornean Ground-Cuckoo at Borneo Rainforest Lodge in February 2002. See his trip report for details on this and other observations.
Is the Blue-wattled Bulbul, known from one specimen from NW Sumatra, one specimen from central Kalimantan, and sight records (probably one bird) from Brunei in 1992, a valid species? Robert S.R. Williams concludes that it is a hybrid in "The rediscovery and doubtful validity of the Blue-wattled Bulbul Pycnonotus nieuwenhuisii." Forktail 18 (2002): 107-109: "The curious rarity of Pycnonotus nieuwenhuisii and the fact that South African Pycnonotus hybrids have similar ocular ring colours and enlargements as P. nieuwenhuisii suggest that the form may be an intrageneric hybrid."
Phil Benstead reports the following from Fraser's Hill in early June 2001: Long-billed Partridge - at least three seen in the first 500 metres of the High Pine Trail one morning; Pin-tailed Parrotfinch - group feeding on seeding bamboo below the Gap on the road to KKB (by the 89 km (to KL) milepost).
Jon Hornbuckle found birding to be difficult during his 6-week trip in March-April 2000. There is speculation that smoke from the massive forest fires in Indonesia may have caused a reaction up the food chain, ultimately reducing numbers of forest birds.
Some of Jon's best sightings included Long-billed Partridge, Black-and-white Bulbul and Pin-tailed Parrotfinch [L. Poh photos: male; female] at Taman Negara. He found that maintenance of trails and hides at Taman Negara is being completely neglected, despite the large sums coming in from ecotourists.
In April 2000, Chris Gooddie et al. heard a pair of Long-billed Partridge, Rhizothera longirostris, dueting from the pines at Fraser's Hill.
Sabah: Andy Goodwin reported seeing a female Hose's Broadbill, Calyptomena hosii, on 16 May 2000 at the 2,800m marker on the Langanan Waterfall Trail above Poring Hot Springs in riverine bushes. Details presumably will be submitted for review by the Cotinga editors. (Whitehead's Broadbill occurs in the vicinity at this elevation.) Andy Adcock reports that "the entrance to the top of the Silau Silau trail and the Liwagu trail are good for Whitehead's Broadbill."
In June 2000, Dylan Thomas reported finding Black-throated Wren-Babbler, Napothera atrigularis, about 50 m in from the road on the Hornbill trail side of the Sapa Babandil trail at Danum Valley.
The Danum Valley hostel was washed away by the high river level in January 2000. (Jon Hornbuckle).
See the World Birding Discussion Board for a message from Kalan Ickes about Mesilau, a new site with good accommodations at 1,900m on the way from Park HQ to Poring Hot Springs, where he saw Mountain Serpent-Eagle, Spilornis kinabaluensis, and Everett's Thrush, Zoothera everetti, in March 2000.
More about Everett's Thrush at Kinabalu Park HQ from Ashley Banwell on 24 March 2000: "There has been an Everett's Thrush staked out for the past week. If you take the Bukit Ulah trail, walk for just 50m and then go in to your right for 20m until you can overlook an area where two small streams meet in a 'V'. Just get here pre-dawn and wait. Today it flew in at 0646 only briefly, but yesterday at 0647 it was on view for 6 or 7 minutes. It calls constantly - a harsh, short, grating noise. It has been recorded on tape and video. The area of the trail where you go in is just before the trail levels out. Also seen yesterday: 3 Fruithunters." Andy Adcock saw an adult and juvenile Everett's Thrush on 31 July 2000.
In May, 1999, Patric Bloomquist saw an Everett's Thrush at Kinabulu on the Liwagu Trail next to the river, approximately 200 meters north of where the trail meets the Silau-Silau Trail.
Jonathan Newman reports that he saw a female Lophura pheasant just below Kinabalu Park Headquarters in November 1998 that has been tentatively identified as Bulwer's Pheasant, Lophura bulweri. It had bluish periocular skin and pink legs, and plumage was otherwise a uniform rich brown. In July 1992, Dirk de Moes had a superb observation of a male Bulwer's Pheasant on the Rhino Ridge Trail in the Field Center area of Danum Valley.
The following is from a report by John Penhallurick about his April 2000 trip to Sabah: "Borneo Rainforest Lodge was terrific. Ask for the guide named Wangkong. . . . At Poring Hot Springs, they close the canopy walk for repairs every April, at the height of the tourist season, and lock the gates on the tracks leading to the walk. So you are left with the one 4 km walk to the Lagunan Waterfall. . . . I do not want to reflect on Uncle Tan himself, who is a great human being, but the camp is a shambles. The minibus dropped us off a kilometre short of the river, and having lugged out cases through the rain, we found no boatman. We waited for an hour and a half in a cattle-shed before he turned up. We were offered no help in getting our bags onto the boat through deep mud. There was no dock of any kind. It poured as we went down the river. There were no covers of any kind either for the passengers or our baggage. The camp itself was a morass of mud. The only activity is a boat trip from 6 to 8. Then the boat goes upriver and does not return until about 5 pm. There are no trails from the camp, contrary to Brandsbury's map. The staff are completely unhelpful, and apart from serving meals, lie around singing all day and half the night. It did not help that the huge downpour had raised water levels half a meter and covered all the mudbanks, with the result that I did not see Storm's Stork there. Luckily I had one fly over at Sepilok. The worst point came on Friday night, when the camp leader announced that the boat had not brought any paraffin (so we were down from two pressure maps to one), no breakfast, and that he did not have enough fuel to get back to the highway, so that the next morning's boat trip was cancelled. I bailed out at that point, and we got to the highway only by dint of borrowing petrol from a logging barge. If you want river trips and Storm's Stork, go to the Sukau River Lodge. It's more expensive, but it does have a 40 minute trail, and more than one boat!"
Birders Yahoo Group (Malaysian Nature Society)
WildbirdSingapore Yahoo Group (Nature Singapore)
Mat Wilson (Word doc). West Malaysia, March 2005. Japanese Paradise-Flycatcher, Nordmann's Greenshank, Masked Finfoot, Jambu Fruit-Dove, Barred Eagle-Owl at Pasoh, Wallace's Hawk-Eagle at the Gap, Lanceolated Warbler, probable Ferruginous Partridge.
Frank Rheindt - Peninsular Malaysia & Sabah, July-September 2003 - Bulwer's Pheasant seen from the dormitory at Kinabalu Park HQ!
Nick Gardner, Sabah, March-April 2002 - Difficult birding in very hot and dry conditions. Stakeout details for Kinabalu Friendly Warbler, Bornean Bristlehead and Whitehead's Broadbill.
David Bishop, Sabah and Peninsular Malaysia, February 2002 - Highlights included Bornean Ground-Cuckoo, 10-12 pairs of Bornean Wren-Babblers, Malayan Night-Heron, and Storm's Stork.
Joe Tobias, Sabah, April 2001 - details on recent observations of the key endemics, including three 2001 observations of Bulwer's Pheasant at Danum Valley.
Jon Hornbuckle, March-April 2000. Report of a trip to peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and southern Thailand. Includes thumbnail links to handheld bird photos and a link to a complete list of birds observed. List of Birds Observed.
Sam Woods, Sabah - Kinabalu NP, Poring Hot Springs, Danum Valley, February-March 2001.
Kalan Ickes, Sabah, March 2000
Complete checklist of Birds of Sarawak by Richard Gregory-Smith (slow and confusing website with photos)
Birds of Peninsular Malaysia Checklist - Footprint Adventures
Birds of Malaysian Borneo Checklist - Footprint Adventures
[Covers Malaysia and other countries in Asia now being stripped of forest by Malaysian logging companies]
22 March 2006: Behind the Veneer: How Indonesia's Last Rainforests are Being Felled for Flooring. Environmental Investigation Agency. (pdf). The major flooring companies including Armstrong, Tarkett and Kahrs lie about the sources of their wood, as do the major retailers including Home Depot and Lowe's, both of which silenced complaints about their selling old growth hardwoods with new environmental standards, which this report shows are not being enforced. Tarkett and Kahrs continue to advance the blatantly false claim that their merbau flooring comes from underwater trees at the Temenggor Lake hydroelectric project, where a few logs were cut by divers in the past. However, legal logging at Temenggor Lake was halted in May 2005 after a Malaysian newspaper exposed that the companies involved were responsible for rampant illegal logging of merbau trees in the allegedly protected forests adjacent to the lake. Michael D. Lockhart, the CEO of Armstrong Wood Products, stated that Armstrong's supplier contracts "insist on documentation on the chain of custody for wood we buy" and that "when we have requested it" its suppliers have provided such documents, but the EIA demonstrated that these claims are false and that Armstrong's merbau wood comes from the Papua spot market.
30 December 2005: Indonesia military admits being paid by US mining firm. By John Aglionby. The Guardian. The exposure of the Freeport-McMoRan bribery scandal is good news for Swiss Banks. Because of the publicity and embarrassment, the bribes, especially the cut to Jakarta, undoubtedly are going to have to go up. Freeport's bribes to Washington not to prosecute under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act also will have to increase. But there is no prospect for a cleanup at the Grasberg mine.
27 December 2005: Timber council in cahoots with Sarawak timber giant Sawling. Julia Beckel of the Bruno-Manser-Fonds Association, letter to Malaysia Kini. Satellite images show that Sawling is lying about what they promised would be "sustainable logging", but is actually clear cutting. The gullible German government funded the sham "sustainable logging" of old growth forest. "Now, part of the two Samling Fomiss concessions - the very last virgin rainforest in the area - has been certified by the Malaysian Timber Certification Council MTCC."
27 December 2005: Below a Mountain of Wealth, a River of Waste. By Jane Perlez and Raymond Bonner. New York Times. How Freeport-McMoRan, one of the filthiest American companies, has paid off the Indonesian government and military to allow massive pollution at their mine Irian Jaya/Papua and get rid of native opponents. "Down below, nearly 90 square miles of wetlands, once one of the richest freshwater habitats in the world, are virtually buried in mine waste, called tailings, with levels of copper and sediment so high that almost all fish have disappeared, according to environment ministry documents."
2 December 2005: Mysterious carnivore discovered in Borneo's forests. WWF Australia. It was photographed twice in 2003 by automatic cameras in Lalut Birai, Indonesian Borneo, but has not yet been trapped or collected. It superficially resembles a lemur, but is believed to be a carnivore, possibly a civet or marten.
June 2005: Borneo: Treasure Island at Risk (pdf). Status of Forest, Wildlife and related Threats on the Island of Borneo. WWF Germany.
20 June 2005: Development threatens Malaysia's mangroves. By Jahabar Sadiq, Reuters. The Malaysian government reclassified Kuala Selangor mangroves from Forest Reserve to agricultural land, and they are now being destroyed for unsustainable shrimp farms. In addition, the shrimp farmers are deliberately killing birds and otters that are lured in for an easy meal. Birders are now missing formerly common mangrove birds such as Mangrove Pitta at Kuala Selangor. Boycott Malaysian and all other imported, tropical shrimp, as it comes from environmentally destructive shrimp farms.
7 January 2005: Monsanto fined $1.5m for bribery. BBC. Caught paying a $50,000 bribe, invoiced as "consulting fees", to Indonesia's environmental ministry to avoid environmental impact studies on its cotton. What's newsworthy is not that Monsanto pays bribes to escape environmental regulation but that the Indonesians can be bought so cheap.
5 November 2004. Bernama.com. Whistleblowing PNG policeman (now in hiding) charges that Malaysian logging giant Rimbunan Hijau paid PNG police to savagely beat PNG landowners with "huge irons". The stinking corrupt PNG government is now preventing reporters from inspecting the Malaysians' massive logging operations.
Native Malaysians reject timber certification. By Tan Cheng Li, The Star, 20 February 2004. A greenwash scheme by the corrupt logging companies.
Profiting from Plunder: How Malaysia Smuggles Endangered Wood (pdf). 4 February 2004. By the Environmental Investigation Agency and Telapak. (Summary in html.)
Torture in the Forests. Greenpeace, 3 February 2004. "When a big, bad transnational corporation is ripping the heart out of the world's last remaining ancient forests, it's no surprise that corruption, payoffs, torture and abuse of human rights are all part of the package. But global conglomerate Rimbunan Hijau of Malaysia may be one of the worst examples of how greed drives the destruction of human communities and the forests they depend upon."
The future for Sundaic lowland forest birds: long-term effects of commercial logging and fragmentation. By F.R. Lambert and N.J. Collar, Forktail 18 (2002): 127-146.
Borneo Project News Page - Updated frequently with the latest environmental news from Malaysia.
Rengah Sarawak - Another excellent source for the latest environmental news from Malaysia.
International Campaign to stop the Bakun hydroelectric dam - Coalition of Concerned NGOs against Bakun
The Borneo Project, an Earth Island Institute project. They also publish a free print newsletter which you can request by sending an e-mail message to borneo[at]earthisland.org.
Malaysia laundering Indonesian rainforest logs. BBC 22 May 2002. Transshipped through the new port of Kuala Linggi, south of KL.
Malaysian government official promises to stop laundering illegal Indonesia timber. BBC 11 June 2002. (But legal Malaysian logging is just as destructive, as the last remnants of the great lowland forests are being wiped out -- legally.)
Growing from a wasteland, by Tan Cheng Li. The Star, 13 February 2001. Proposed nature park at Batu Gajah, Perak.
On 16 October 2000, Clive Marsh, 49, who was responsible for arranging protection for Danum Valley and the Maliau Basin, died of encephalitis contracted while doing field work in Laos after a year in hospital in Oxford.
Help Save Belum Forest Reserve, Malaysia, by Mike Chong.
Bruno Manser Fund - Bruno is missing in Sarawak.
An overview of Asian companies, in particular Malaysian companies - Ana Toni, in cooperation with Forest Monitor, May 1997 (Greenpeace website). Excellent report.
WWF = World Wildlife Fraud - How the WWF covered up and pulped a WWF/EU report on massive tropical logging corruption out of fear "that some of the governments concerned, particularly Malaysia, would close down WWF offices" and fear of being accused of "Asian-bashing." (Paul Brown, Guardian).
Now online: The uncensored (lots of details) and censored (lots of pictures but few details) versions of the WWF report (pdf): "Increased Investment and Trade by Transnational Logging Companies in ACP-countries: Implications for sustainable forest management and conservation" by Nigel Sizer and Dominiek Plouvier. A joint report of WWF-Belgium, WRI & WWF-International, sponsored by the European Commission.
Suharto's Fires: Suharto cronies control an ASEAN-wide oil palm industry with an appalling environmental record. By George J. Aditjondro, Inside Indonesia 65, Jan-Mar 2001.
Special Report on Bob Hasan and Indonesian forest destruction. The Gallon Environment Letter, Vol 5, No. 2. January 2001.
Malaysian loggers [logging giant GAT International] in Cambodia threaten proposed Cardamon Mountain reserve. Global Witness, 8 June 2000.
Malaysians pressure the Royal Government of Cambodia to reduce the timber royalty rate for Samling International. Global Witness, 3 March 2000.