24 Jan 2023
Asian Waterbird Census
A waterbird observation exercise was held over the weekend by KEHATI’s Biodiversity Warrior in North Jakarta’s Angke Kapuk Mangrove Nature Park. The Asian Waterbird Cencus (AWC), which is overseen in Indonesia by Wetlands International Indonesia, is regularly supported by this annual water bird observation.
The Asian cormorant species (anhinga melanogaster) that nested in the Angke Kapuk Mangrove Park was the interesting finding from this observation. According to IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), this bird has been given the Near Threatened classification.
“Previously this type of bird only nested in the Pulau Rambut Wildlife Reserve in the Kepulauan Seribu region,” said Ady Kristanto, coordinator of the Jakarta Birdwatcher Society (JBS).
As quoted by greeners.co, the Asian cormorant has the uniqueness of not having nostrils. This bird has a slender and long neck resembling a snake. This bird is endangered because its habitat is getting narrower and the quality of the environment is getting worse. This bird is also vulnerable to being hunted by people.
JBS, a club of bird enthusiasts, assists in organizing amateur bird watchers in the Greater Jakarta (Jabodetabek) region to take part in the AWC. The information on which bird species are still present in the Natural Tourist Park (TWA: Taman Wisata Alam) will be the outcome of this water bird monitoring program.
According to data gathered last week, the situation of waterbirds in TWA Mangrove was still stable, no changes from prior years. 16 kinds of waterbird, totaling 443 individuals, are present in TWA Mangrove, according to Ady. While there are 20 species and 159 individuals of non-water bird species overall.
Data from waterbird monitoring studies can be used to aid in area preservation. One of these is helping the Indonesian government preserve Pulau Dua Natural Reserve on Banten Beach, which is home to thousands of these waterbirds’ nests and breeding grounds.
Due to their function as biological indicators of wetland ecosystems, waterbirds are significant creatures that require observation. A wetland’s ecosystem is still in good shape if there are more species of waterbirds there.
Because they are at the top or second of the food chain, waterbirds also serve as a balancer for wetland habitats. Underwater bird populations are becoming better managed.
As its name suggests, waterbirds graze in aquatic environments and live in flocks. There are some creatures that dwell, sometimes known as resident birds, and breed in their region in search of food.
The term “migratory birds” also refers to several varieties of migratory/wandering birds. They travel to the drier parts of the south in search of food after leaving the Northern Hemisphere, where they reproduce in the summer.
The Wetlands International Indonesia Program, in collaboration with the Directorate General of Forest Protection and Natural Conservation (PHKA: Perlindungan Hutan Konservasi Alam), Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK: Kementrian Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan), oversees the waterbird census program in Indonesia. A nonprofit organization called Wetlands International Indonesia is committed to preserving and regenerating wetland environments.
Collaboration between this organization and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) is conducted throughout Asia. Since 1987, they have been conducting the Asian Waterbird Census, or AWC, of waterbird populations.
Water birds are observed in almost all Asian nations, including Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, India, China, Myanmar, and the Philippines. Many regional organizations were also there to supervise this monitoring effort. Waterbird monitoring and habitat preservation are voluntary activities undertaken by the citizen science network. The Jakarta Birdwatcher Society and BW KEHATI, a group of citizen scientists, worked together to monitor TWA Mangrove Angke.
The waterbird census is conducted annually on the second and third Sundays of January to February, according to KEHATI Biodiversity Warrior (BW) Coordinator Indeka Dharma Putra. Indonesia’s rainy season, when they reproduce or search for food, is affected by the decision of time.
The timing for data collection was ideal because numerous migrating waterbirds were still residing in Indonesia at that time. Data gathering includes resident birds as well as migratory bird subjects. Since 2015, BW KEHATI has participated in the AWC, and this time, BW included more than 40 of its members.
Wetlands International, the project’s founder, is working with a number of NGOs in Indonesia, including Bird Indonesia, Bird Sea Archipelago, and Burungnesia, said Indeka.
The topic of the threat of extinction is inseparably linked to discussions about biodiversity. The same is true for the ecosystem of aquatic animals. They face threats from pollution, habitat degradation, and poaching.
Waterbirds’ food now contains metals as a result of pollution-related causes like that in Muara Angke’s waterways. They cannot tolerate heavy metal-containing water, therefore if the pollution worsens, they will perish. The waterbirds’ distinctive fading plumage color will still be present even if they live. Food has an impact on the fur’s coloration.
Mangrove forests serve as yet another illustration. The composition of their habitat changed somewhat because there were no rats (Rallidae spp.) or grouse (Dendrocygna spp.), just egrets (Egretta spp.) or herons (Ardeidae spp.). The variety of waterbirds that visit or settle might provide insight into the health of a wetland.
The great economic value of a wetland, as was the case on the coast of Java Island, influences changes in waterbird habitat. Fish and shrimp ponds replaced the native habitat of the inhabitants. Changes in this waterbird’s environment started to spread to Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Farmers will experience financial difficulties as a result of the declining number of waterbirds that inhabit rice fields. Egrets (Egretta spp.), which consume rice pests like grasshoppers, are one species of waterbird that controls pests in rice fields. As egret populations decline, rice plants will produce less because pests will attack them more often.
Waterbirds perform a variety of other ecological tasks in addition to controlling pests. For instance, mice birds (Rallidae spp.) function as decomposers since they consume insects in addition to being herbivores who consume decaying vegetation. Moreover, there is a subspecies of Benjut Duck called Annas gibberifrons whose job it is to control the proliferation of algae, or freshwater or marine organisms. Due to a shortage of oxygen, the expanding algae population causes lake waters to appear red or yellow.
It goes without saying that protecting against the threat of extinction is extremely difficult. The fact that this waterbird is protected is not widely known. Another alternative is that they are unconcerned for the conventional reason, which is the current economic crisis.
The Biodiversity Warriors of KEHATI will always take part in AWC events and keep up their advocacy for these waterbirds.
They hope that the younger generation will become friends and take action to raise awareness about the value of protecting water birds and their environment. Although the government also faces limitations, such as a small budget and staff, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry supports the work done by AWC and NGOs.
Adding more mangroves to the wetland environment is one of the things that can be done in cooperation with the government. There will be education about planting mangrove trees as a support for the wetlands that locals use as fish ponds.
This mangrove tree serves as a shelter to allow fish to consume the waterbird droppings. Fish receive nutrition from the droppings of waterbird. Ponds with mangrove plants placed in them produce results that have a high market value.