MPRT’s first leg of bird watching race starts April 14

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A male oriental pied hornbill seen perched on a tree in Seria. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

The Ministry of Primary Resources and Tourism (MPRT) will be hosting a series of bird watching contest, hoping to stimulate such activity into becoming one of the country’s major economic contributors in the future.

The competition which begins in the capital on April 14 aimed to encourage local bird watchers to discover new sites, so the authorities can preserve and promote them further as a tourist attraction.

It also aspired to open more opportunities for wildlife researchers to come and document the type of bird species available across the nation – which will be helpful in developing the country’s tourism sector.

Tourism Officer Hj Mohd Jeffrey Hj Mohd Sunny Lai explained that the ministry is taking its first steps to emulate countries like USA and Scotland – where bird watching tourism has earned them billions of national revenues annually.

MPRT, he said, decided to make a move on bird tourism following its potential to go far in Brunei.  First, Brunei maintained its lush rainforests which holds the possibilities of sheltering rare and undiscovered species.

Secondly, he said Brunei is also strategically surrounded by countries where bird watching activities are prominent – Japan alone has a society for wild bird watchers with close to 50,000 registered members altogether.

At the same time the sultanate is also looking to increase its air travels to countries like Japan and South Korea, which may also increase the number of potential bird watchers coming into the country.

“Brunei alone recorded about 14,000 visitors coming to Taman Negara Ulu Temburong – a place for nature lovers who possibly came to view birds too,” he said.

“While the race is currently being held in a smaller scale, we hope to grow it into an international event by 2021.  By then, we may be able to host it at a regional level, partnering with Sabah and Sarawak,” he added.

The first leg of the competition will be held at the Tasek Lama Recreational Park from 6am to 10am.  The second to fourth will be held at selected places in Tutong, Belait and Temburong in July, September and December.

Winners are selected based on the number of birds sighted, verified via lists and photographs by the end of each competition.  The overall Brunei bird watching race series champion will also be named by the end of the series.

Participation fees per individual is $30 for each series, interested parties are advised to bring their own binoculars and cameras.

More details can be obtained via the competition’s Facebook and Instagram accounts.

The Bruneian