Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Who Says Malaysians Have "Tidak Apa" Attitude?

Malaysians are very well known for our "Tidak Apa" attitude (light-hearted or inattentive) or "Never mind-lah". Or some Malaysians will say, "Cin Cai-lah". Simple examples such as double parking, parking in front of someone's else house, littering, using too much water unnecessarily or not wearing safety helmets while riding motorbikes. 

I spotted a very rare sight this evening on our road especially on Langkawi. This has proven that not all Malaysians have "Tidak Apa" attitude.   

I drove past them and I just had to stop to take their pictures. I stopped my car beside the road and got my camera ready. The "father" looked at me as I was smiling and he smiled back.

What made me want to take their pictures?


The fact that they actually care about their safety on the road, which is a very rare sight on Langkawi. Both parents had bicycle helmets on and the little girl as well. And the home made small plastic chair for the little girl amazed me.

I noticed the little girl was very near to the back of her father and I saw her nodding off as I past them. The best thing was the safety belt strapped on her so she can continue dozing without falling off.
Picture of the home made chair (zoomed in)
Well done to this family. Great role models! I hope I will get to meet them again and have a chat. Any Langkawians out there know who they are? 

On the note, I am very sure they were Malaysians. For a start, they looked like one of us.

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Waves + Surfs = Southwest Monsoon

7th June 2010  - our 8th planting on Kuala Melaka site. We selected this date in conjunction with  the World Environment Day which was on 5th June 2010. On this day, I got the opportunity to witness the large surfs coming into the shore. I had only heard about such surfs from the locals and yet to see the real thing because on those days that I came, the surfs were not as big as on this day.
Picture contributed by Mandy

This morning I was checking the tide level for our 9th planting via  our Malaysian Meteorological Department official portal when I stumbled upon their list of earthquakes.  A little bit shocking after looking at the statistics.

From the website of our  Malaysian Meteorological Department, just for the month of June 2010 itself, there were seven earthquakes occurred between 850-1066km Northwest of Langkawi  in the areas of Nicobar Islands and Andaman Islands regions. Only one earthquake  occurred in the Northern Sumatera, 497km Southwest of Langkawi.


After running through the list of earthquakes from January-June 2010, the month of June 2010 has the highest frequency of occurrences and ...pssst.... the distance is getting closer. From the distance of about 2000km to about 1000km or less away from Langkawi.

Staring at the surfs, I had mixed feelings of admiration and fear. Huge mighty surfs are indeed a beautiful sight and yet scary. I couldn't imagine how the surfs and swells look like when the tsunami hit this area on the Boxing day of 2004. I recall being a volunteer helping to clean up the mess in Kuala Teriang school area. And then my mind started to wonder. What if another tsunami comes, will this mudflat have sufficient mangroves to create a strong protection belt? Will these mangroves have the chance to reach its maturity stage before the next tsunami comes?
Bamboo sticks bent by the hitting force of the surfs and debris 
I have to tell myself to stop wondering. That will not help. Let's get back to work. And also on this day, I had a new planter with me...

Mandy in her own world

Meet Mandy, the blog owner of  Not Just Odonata. If you want to know about odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) in Langkawi, go check out her blog.

On this site, I was looking at the increasing amount of trash trapped by those bamboo sticks. 

Drifted coconuts landed on the mudflat were everywhere. They looked like bowling balls about to hit the targets. The targets were the mangroves seedlings. 


The tide was going out and level at the time of our arrival on this day was about 1.90meter. It was a nice windy sunny morning. A couple of White Bellied Sea Eagles were flying low and skiing with the wind.  Some waders flew in to feed. The frequent visitor,  Little Heron (Butorides striatus) and another not so frequent visitor, Pacific Reef Egret (Egretta sacra) dark morph were spotted at the edge of the mudflat.


And of course, the fiddler crabs (Uca spp.) were present. 

Mandy started to mumble about a fish and I was searching everywhere on the ground for that something she was pointing at. Shortly, my nose caught the stench. Thankfully, the stench was not as awful as the unidentified  suspected cetacean carcass found on Pebble Beach. The carcass Mandy was pointing turned out to be a porcupine fish. 

With just the two of us, we managed to plant about 60-70 seedlings.

Mandy collected some seedlings while she was kayaking in Kilim. Thanks, Mandy for your help.

All done for the day in less than 2 hours and it was time for a drink of Sirap Selasih ("tadpoles eggs-like" in icy cold red blood syrup) at Warung Pais while enjoying the surrounding wildlife.
Pacific Reef Egret aiming for a fish

A Blue Spotted Mudskipper (Boleophthalmus boddarti) leaping in joy or could be trying to attract a female 

And then it landed...

View of the estuary of Kuala Melaka from Warung Pais

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Good News And Great Relief To Pulau Payar Marine Park, Langkawi

This is a fantastic news to me. Unfortunately, many others may not share the same sentiment of joy as mine. The news is (drum roll please...) Pulau Payar Marine Park is now temporary closed due to excessive coral bleaching. <clap,clap,clap>

Pulau Payar has been abused for many years due to excessive carrying capacity and extreme heat condition. Every action must have a consequence. This time, the island cannot tolerate further and the consequences resulted to the closure of the park and thus affecting the revenue of the operators. 

Below is a letter issued by the Jabatan Taman Laut Negeri Kedah (Department of Marine Park Kedah) to all the operators to Pulau Payar.


Do allow me to translate... ahem..hemm..

1. Please be informed that the coral reef in Pulau Payar Marine Park is suffering from excessive coral bleaching at critical level. This was a result from the changes of the sea temperature.

2. As such, the Department is now taking action by closing the affected areas. The areas are Marine Park Center and Coral Garden. No activities are allowed in these areas. Alternatively, operators may use the areas in Pantai Damai, Pulau Kaca and Pulau Lembu.

3. Therefore, all operators must adhere to this regulation in order to preserve the biodiversity of the coral reef in Pulau Payar Marine Park Center. A stern action will be taken against any operators that failed to comply with this regulation.

4. This regulation is effective from the date of this letter (20th June 2010)

What more can I say? KUDOS to the Department of Marine Park Kedah for finally taking a stern action.

I am so glad to see this letter and felt like our effort in highlighting this issue to the Ministry of Natural Resources, EcoMalaysia.Org and MalaysiaKini had became fruitful. What surprised us was the Department of Marine Park Kedah called upon a meeting sometime in February 2010 with all the stake holders of Langkawi tourism industry to discuss on conservation of Pulau Payar Marine Park. Hey, M!! You should be happy too!

We are NOT against the operators to "cari makan" (earn a living) there. We just want the coral reef biodiversity to be conserved for a long long time and the need for responsible and ecological sense operators. Like what is happening now and because the reef is now spoiled, operators now "cari makan" less. 

Read more on coral bleaching:


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Monday, June 21, 2010

Little Iman

This day was Vanessa's first time to Kuala Teriang to help plant those seedlings.  I spotted Little Iman standing outside of Warung Pais looking curiously at us carrying a bucket as we were about to walk towards the mudlflat. 

I called out to him and invited him to join us ... Jom...mari... He looked at us with a shy, unresponsive and  doubtful look. Probably a Mat Salleh was around. We didn't stand around to wait for him to follow us.

The tide level on this day; 24th May 2010 was about 1.90 meter. The bamboo sticks indeed did play their role pretty well. Loads of debris were caught by these little sticks.
Can these little bamboo sticks withstand the big surfs that will be coming in the next two months or so? Well... we shall see...

Twenty minutes later, Little Iman and his three friends came to the site carrying a bucket and as if they were scavenging for something.

I knew they were curious and then I called them over. Another call of invitation from me returned with four faces of shy, unresponsive and doubtful look from them. This time, I went babbling away on why we are planting these seedlings and a very short note on the importance of mangroves. Another unresponsive respond. I felt like an idiot for awhile and Vanessa added some salt into the wound by commenting I was too speaking too fast in my slacking Malay language. I guess I was speaking proper Malay and not the Kedah dialect.

If challenge by choice didn't work, autocratic way would do the trick. I walked up to Little Iman, showed him a seedling, demonstrated how to plant it in and passed another seed to him. He took it and started planting without saying much. Yay!
Little Iman was the first to do the planting and while his three other friends helped to watch. I passed more seedlings to the three friends and asked if they can help. They just shook their heads and were quite reluctant. Thank goodness that it didn't take a long time before two of them decided to join in the "labour".

Vanessa attempting with her best Malay talking to the boys. Huh? Whatcha' sayin' there, Ness?

I didn't time on how long we took to plant about fifty seedlings but the whole process was quick. 

Vanessa wanted to reward them and so we invited them for a drink at Warung Pais. The three boys left and Little Iman came to pack his icy cold syrup drink. They all had to attend afternoon school.
Vanessa and her "kids"

Little Iman is a shy serious looking kid and doesn't speak much. At least I got to know his name.  What I liked about this kid was that he demonstrated well of this quote "Action Speaks Louder than Words". 

Later after, I went over to Vanessa's Backyard and played stomping in the mud. What a huge difference of mudflat condition between this two different areas in the same neighbourhood! We did some maintenance work on this site by erecting some of the collapsed young Rhizophoras. 

The weather changed very quickly in the late afternoon and it was time to leave.


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Species of Langkawi's Poachers

With the increasing number of poachers in Langkawi, I can now categorise them into three species:


JUST FOR FUN (SMALL TIME) KEH LEY FAY POACHERS
These locals were seen waiting to trap birds in the mangroves. They came by long boats especially at high tide when their boats can access further inside. When they walked out carrying covered small cages, you can tell what they were doing. 

These are just some youngsters who have nothing else better to do on their weekends.



Do you notice the small cages on the ground?

The picture above shows the locals were out of the forest with the cages. The types of birds these locals usually trap are the Oriental Magpie Robins (Copsychus saularis), White Rumped Shama (Copsychus malabaricus),  Bulbuls (Pycnonotus sp.) and Hill Mynas (Gracula religiosa)


AMATEUR (MID RANGE) POACHERS

This anchovies (ikan bilis) purse seiner was spotted harvesting marine life too close to the shore. All purse seiners must do their catch at least 5km away from the coast or shore.



Their modus operandi were usually during the neap tide period. On days like that, we don't see the enforcers from Marine or even the Jabatan Perikanan (Fisheries Department).

PROFESSIONALS (BIG TIME) POACHERS




They are mysterious. They came by day or night. They acted quietly and their action is huge. They could be one of the big stake players involved in Langkawi's tourism industry. They may be the one talking to the public on their love for the rainforest and looking after the community. These are the Destructive ones. Even the lawmakers and enforcers would bow down and kowtow to them. 

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

New Strategy From An Amateur

When I was at Vanessa's Backyard last month, I also went over to our planting site at Kuala Melaka to inspect my seedlings. I was shocked to see what these people had done to this site. 



Not only this mysterious group planted the seedlings with the bamboo sticks on Vanessa's backyard, they also planted on Kuala Teriang site. I noticed that these seedlings with the bamboo sticks were planted very far out towards the sea. From our experience, most of the young trees planted by the Digi Program were washed away because they were too close to the sea. Maybe this technique with the bamboo sticks may work, who knows. Well, we shall see. 


I looked at our neighbour's side across the estuary and this group also did the planting behind the pakcik's house. See picture below.  

Scanning the entire area, it looked like thousands of seedlings had been planted. According to Vanessa, this may be a government funded project. I believe her. Otherwise, who would spend that amount of time and money to do such a substantial planting. My only concern is will these people return to inspect and conduct maintenance work on these young trees. According to Vanessa, the previous seedlings were planted and no one return to maintain. 

At that time, I was still puzzled about the purpose of the bamboo sticks. My guess was that the bamboo sticks may provide some sort of barricades against any debris that may come crashing on it for example drift wood, logs and coconuts washed up to the shore by strong surfs. These are the culprits that knocked off the seedlings.


I looked at my seedlings that were planted on April 27th 2010 and they seemed to be in a pathetic condition.

Can you spot those drooping seedlings?

I began to wonder why my newly planted seedlings were not doing so well. Of course! These babes were in luxurious comfortable condition sitting in the container of fresh water for twenty four hours. And all of the sudden, this silly homosapien (which is me) took these babes away from the comfort zone  and put them in an extreme harsh condition. Those poor roots suffered from shock! Especially when Langkawi was in the prolonged hot dry season and the high tide did not really help.


I now developed a new strategy. DO NOT KEEP THEM FOR TOO LONG IN THE FRESH WATER. I shall limit the growth of the roots for only a few millimeters or a maximum of one centimeter. And will not allow the leaves to sprout. 
These lengths were way too much


And then plant them behind the taller trees and ensure that they have some protection. A lot of seedlings sacrificed to learn something new for an amateur like me. Sorry propagules...

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Guess What This Is??

Walking the dogs on Pebble Beach at Tiga Temurun, my nose caught an awful stench which had led me closer to the sea. As I got closer, this was sitting on the pebbles.

That carcass was about a meter in length. It was a huge fish and the head was missing. What made us curious was how the frontal part was eaten up revealing the rib cage. Correct me if I am wrong here, a fish family would not have a rib cage. A very high possibly that this carcass belonged to some marine mammal.

We turned the carcass over and whooosh! lots of maggots!



We took a closer look and it seemed to have a pair of flipper. The ends of the decapitated carcass looked mangled. 


The owners of Tiga Cafe decided to have the carcass burn due to the stench that reached the restaurant when the wind blew to that direction. We used all sorts of rubbish and debris as fuel. While I was searching for suitable rubbish in the bush, my nose detected the stench again. This time I found the missing part. 

Its skull!!

Please be aware that the long thing stuck to it was a stick we used to pick the skull up.

View of skull from underside

Lateral view of the skull

It was a strange looking skull. We hope that this skull actually belonged to the carcass and not something else... like a baby...??? ... of course not..

This marine mammal was definitely not a dolphin. It may be a porpoise, manatee or dugong. I wonder what killed it. Whatever it was, do Rest In Peace, my friend.

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