White-rumped shamas due to its unique singing ability and physical features have an increasing demand in the market. The Sarawak Forest Department (SFD) has saved hundreds of them and other protected bird species from smugglers.
In Miri, bird enthusiasts have formed a club called Kelab Pencinta Burung Kicau Miri (Pekicau Miri). According to its chairman Mohd Azahar Bujang, the club, set up in 2014, serves as a venue for members to share a common hobby. The club was registered in 2015 but there’s still a lack of awareness among members of the need to apply for a license to rear protected birds.
“We started looking seriously into this matter after organizing a series of competitions in the city. Our first biggest competition was the Miri City 2017 Bird Singing Competition for magpie robins at the Petronas Sports Village, attracting entries from Brunei and Indonesia,” he said.
Transport Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin saw the potential of the 2019 Miri City Bird Singing Competition in attracting visitors, especially bird enthusiasts.
“Since Pekicau Miri was set up, I’ve been following its progress, particularly in organizing events. Every event you organized attracted not only local entries but also those from Sabah, Brunei, and Indonesia.
“A successful festival like this (2019 Miri City Bird Singing Competition) is something we should be pushing for as signature tourism event.”
Lee, also Senadin assemblyman, is confident such an international bird festival would add a feather to the State tourism calendar and the cap of the Resort City.
He urged the club to prepare early for the bird festival next year, believing that the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry and SFD would help make the event ‘a huge success.’
“Early preparation is important to attract bird lovers throughout the country to the festival. Let’s make this work. The ministry will help with the publicity and Forest Department will handle the licensing.”
He said besides organizing its own events, the club was sending its team to local bird-singing competitions and those in neighboring Brunei and Indonesia.
“Our events have more local content. With strong support from the club’s committee and members in publicizing the events, most have received overwhelming response.
“Besides the locals, we have attracted bird lovers from Sabah, Brunei, and West Kalimantan.
“That’s why Datuk Lee Kim Shin, during his tenure as Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, wanted to help us promote our bird-singing competition into an international bird festival.”
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