Genting Highland Bird Race

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In the last 15 years, the few birding trails in Genting Highlands were getting to be more productive when compared to those found in Frasers Hills. A good example would be that in the renowned Old Pump House Road which personally I rate to be the best. But all good things would some day come to an end. The End? It had happened. This statement applies to the availability of the Old Pump House Road for use by weekend birders. For couple of years now, entry was slowly curtailed until the beginning of this year 2012, From then onwards, access to this destination was denied.

Casting this unhappy arrangement aside, the area within the mountain at Genting Highlands is indeed have good places for birding. By the year 2012, the company felt it was time to tap this potential and went about promoting this destination as a tourist destination under the banner of "birding". This destination and Frasers hills are both in the state of Pahang and the organizer conceptualized the starting of two events as a synergy. Have 2 Bird Races in a year, one in the usual Frasers Hills and a new event in Awana.

To coincide with the 25th Fraser's Hill Bird Race, the Fraser's Hill Development Corporation (FHDC) made the announcement that the year's race to also include one new event in Genting Highlands.  Participants can opt for one or both races.  The two races would have Advanced and Novice categories. Participating fees for the Genting Highlands and Fraser's Hill Bird Race was uniformly fixed at Rm100 for a team of 3 participants for one race and and a concession of Rm150, if the team wishes to be involved for both races.
 

To launch and publicize this new arrangement,  FDHC had the cooperation of the Singapore NSS and had provided a free bus services to ferry participants to and from Singapore to Fraser's Hill.  Also at Fraser's Hill, Singaporean  would be able to work out with the volunteering locals to rent out their private cars at nominal rates. More than that. the Singaporean had also solicited a few experienced birders to serve as guide those new birders who had little experiences in doing birding in this sub-montane environment. Bus leaves Singapore on 21 June, Thursday night, giving the birders one whole day on Friday in Frasers Hills to familiarize themselves with the bird species, trails and acquainting themselves with the hot spots. The return trip to Singapore was on Sunday afternoon after the closing ceremony, arriving at around midnight. What a wonderful that the hobby of birding had brought to the stressed out city folks for a weekend inside the tropical forest.
 

The picture here shows the entrance to the Recreation Park Park in Awana, venue where the Bird Race was coordinated.

The event was hailed as the 25th Pahang International Bird Race Circuit. This is the first time that

Awana Genting was chosen to host the Race, which is usually held at Frasier's Hill. It is part of the Pahang state government's efforts to promote both areas as bird watching and eco-tourism destinations.

"One point for sure is that the 2 event will boost the eventual number of people who can actually present themselves in Pahang to participate the races. More than that, the amount of story telling they can start from Genting and ends in Frasers Hills."

   

Typical of Bird races, there would be Teams consisting of three bird watchers will compete in sighting, identifying and recording the most  bird species. Open to children, students and family groups, the race is divided into two main categories - advanced and novice.
The advanced category is for experienced local and foreign bird watchers, while the novice category is for beginners and those in the intermediate entry-level.
The top three participants in the  advanced and novice categories will walk away with prizes  which include  trophies, hampers and accommodation, worth a total of RM7,000. Four next best teams would receive consolation prizes.  
The second race held in Fraser’s Hill on June 23 and 24 had seen the top three bird watchers receiving RM1,000, RM800 and RM200 respectively.

A total of 100 participants took part in this Genting Race. The event was a fore runner to the second race that would be held at Fraser's Hill on June, 23rd.

Here is the overall view of the field acting as the control center. There were stalls with merchandize related to bird watching, ready to serve needs and answer questions.

We too, were there early to facilitate registrations and to offer our support in numbers to this new project. Many of the events officials were new to this whole set-up and many details for the competition were yet to be resolved. I saw that it was not easy for them to provide answers to most questions that we, as participants were not briefed.

This is the first Race in Genting and I had few materials to write. So the next best way to quote aspiration made by the organizer.

"Comparing with many other countries around the world, Malaysia is blessed with numerous world class grade nature parks and stock with respectable numbers of bird species. It is a known fact that the parks in Genting had brought much more people to come here looking for bird species." said Datuk Mirza Mohamad Taiyab, Tourism Malaysia Director General. A link to the video on the launch of this special event is here

"There are 750 bird species in Malaysia and 254 of them can be found in both Fraser's Hill and Genting Highlands. Being the first competition here in Awana, the competition would follow the usual rules as in Frasers Hills." unquote.

It interesting to note that with the figures mentioned by the organizer was implying that both areas, Genting and Frasers Hills had identical species of birds.

In a way, the statement is true but in reality, the real residents in both areas varies in numbers, then the most frequently seen birds varies substantially.
 

   

Here was Durai, a familiar figure in Frasers Hills and the Malaysian birding circle and then my buddy Yoke Sim. She had taken part is some of the earliest bird races of the late 80's.

Durai had stayed and worked in Frasers Hills for most part of his life. He specializes in birds and birding, especially those from the sub-montane and montane areas. Frasers Hills? He knows it like the palm of his hands. But Genting Highlands? have to be there to see the reality when the results are announced.

For this Race, it is good to have the picture archived as souvenir. Needless to say, this time Durai would be an important figure in seeing that the operation here went on smoothly and also helping to get the results accepted amicably.

 

The context of the speech by Executive vice-president of Genting Malaysia Bhd, Datuk Kevin Sim said the unique features of Genting Highlands make it  a perfect destination for bird watchers.

"Fortunately, Malaysia is among the countries that lie in the path of the East Asia-Australia flyway that provides important nesting sites for migratory birds," said Sim.

He also said Genting is keen to create bird watching as a healthy and academic outdoor activity  for local and international tourists.

"It is important to document the bird communities living within the vicinity and we hope with this collaboration, we will boost not only Genting Highlands as a prime bird-watching destination and eco-tourism destination but also the entire state of Pahang," Sim added

More facts and figures mentioned.

"It could be the benchmark for Pahang as a bird-watching destination equivalent to the famous British Bird Watching Fair at the Rutland Water Nature Reserve in United Kingdom annual bird watching race that attracts nearly 25,000 people and raising nearly Rm1mil for the birdlife works," Quote.

Another potential area for the bird-watching site is the South East Pahang peat swamp forests and as one of the largest wetland reserve in Asia. With more than 233 bird species recorded while out of the 10 hornbills species found in this country, eight were recorded here including the rare Winkled Hornbill."

 

The Awana Genting was one of the World’s Important Bird Areas (IBA) attracting interest from bird-watchers, conservationists and planners. The site has become the travel destinations and targets for eco-tourism projects and scientific study.

Prior to hosting the Pahang circuit of bird-watching competition for the first time, organizer Resort World Awana Genting Highlands has managed to prove that its area, located at 3,000ft above sea level and surrounded by 130 million-year-old rainforest, is a potential destination for bird watching

All this while overlooked as a holiday resort, it is now known as an alternative place for nature lovers

According to Genting Malaysia Bhd executive vice-president Datuk Kevin Sim, about 30% of the 750 bird species in the country could be found in the Genting Highland area

Prior to the holding of this first bird race, the Awana Resort had in the past held frequent photographic competitions using the forest environment, the fauna & flora that existed here as theme.

All these efforts had drew very good responses from the public and photo enthusiast. The company encouraged, had continued the tradition.

For this Bird Race, the winning pictures were compiled into album for sales. This young lady here was a feature of "what's going on at the Bird Race". It is a worthwhile book of record to have in a collection of nature's photographs.

 

How did the competition goes?

There was not much information gathered about the winners. But first for the new comers group:-

Nor Aliah Mohd Yusof, Aizan Othman and M. Jayasilan who teamed up as Burung Hantu emerged champions in the novice category with 39 species of birds.

 Then the overall Champion and winner in the advance category were the Team Niltava made up of Jason Nathan, Mohd Azhar Mohd Arshad and Frolena Kumar. Don't be surprised - these people are experts working as  bird guides in Frasers Hills.

I find the results fairly good and normal as those were the figures expected from the competition.

 

While walking around during the "Race" I met up with the members of the winning team and spent some time together.

Today is 11th may 2013, and it took me about a year to get this page ready. I am also rushing a bit as this is also the day, the Bird Race for 2013 has started. Time flies.

My only regrets was that though many words were spoken and many appeals made in that Bird Race 2012. The also follow ups made after the 2012 Bird Race, till today, the Old Pump House Road is still out of bound  to casual birders. Cannot tell how many others non "causal" birders had used the Old Pump House Road during the last 12 months. No feed back, so I doubt there was any.

Would be glad to see this "IBA" made freely to people who have the need to be there. This wishes also explain the reason and background as to why, I had enclosed a substantial part of the text extracted from speeches made at the Bird Race into this page..

Final words, there was no news, no announcement and no lobby made for the 2013 Bird Race. A little bird whispered in my ears this morning. Would be nice if I take a trip tomorrow to check the news out. On the internet, the Frasers Hills Bird race was slotted as 29/30th June. If tradition is anything to go by, the Bird Race in Genting should be held before that of Frasers Hills. Anyway, there were Marshalls at the gate of the Old Pump House Road, to ensure that only participants were allowed  into the area.