Friday, December 16, 2011

Waterbirds in mangrove forests under threat

Thenumber of species and the populations of waterbirds in Muara Angke naturalconservation area, North Jakarta, have decreased because of water pollution andhuman encroachment into the area, an environmental organization says.

During its annual survey on Saturday, volunteers of Jakarta Green Monster (JGM)found 206 waterbirds, down from 333 last year, with only 18 species identified,down from last year’s 23.

JGM reported that the missing species were the Little Cormorant (Phalacrocoraxsulcirostris), Great-billed Heron (Ardea sumatrana), White-browed Crake(Porzanna cinerea), Purple Swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) and Black-naped Tern(Sterna sumatrana).

However, a very rare species, the Oriental Darter (Anhinga melanogaster) andtwo endangered non waterbird species, Sunda Coucal (Centropus nigrorufus) andBlack-winged Starling (Acridotheres melanopterus), were spotted on Saturday.

JGM has been studying the Waterbirds in the area each year since 2006, inrecognition of World Wetland Day on Feb. 2, which marks the anniversary of thesigning of the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance in 1971.

JGM volunteer Ady Kristianto said water pollution and human encroachment werethe main causes of the decline in bird numbers. The darkened water in the areahad been heavily polluted because of an accumulation of plastics and styrofoamfrom the Angke River, he said.

Liquid waste from nearby housing complexes and makeshift houses was also dumpedthere.

“Water pollution has slowed the growth of mangrove trees, which provide shelterto the birds, and has also caused a decline of fish stocks, the main foodsource for waterbirds. Some species are unable to adapt and had flown away toless polluted areas,” he said.

Human encroachment had disrupted the habitat, Ady said.

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