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Education of the Young Generation Through the Census of Asian Waterbirds

The rain did not dampen the spirit of Tiurma Rosita (29) in participating in the Asian Waterbird Census (AWC) activities held by the Indonesian Association for the Conservation of Wild Birds in the Pulau Rambut Wildlife Reserve, Seribu Islands Regency, DKI Jakarta.

Armed with a smartphone, the woman with slanted eyes and fair skin seemed enthusiastic about recording the birds flying from the top of the 15 meter high tower. Apart from being used as a monitoring site for resident birds, the iron tower also serves as a monitoring site for migratory birds.

Not only recording, along with a number of other young people in the same team, the long-haired woman was also tasked with counting and identifying the birds she saw. Meanwhile, there are others who take notes, take pictures, and observe binoculars with the help of binoculars.

Guided by professional bird watchers, the participants from different backgrounds looked familiar doing a water bird census on the tower that was built in 1983.

“Wow, what fun. Through this observation activity, I came to know about water bird species such as the bluwok bird and the black rice cormorant,” the impression of the virgin who claimed to have carried out similar activities in Riau, Saturday (29/01/2023).

For him, although the activities are the same. However, the two places he had visited were different in character. In Riau, the observations were more dominant in peat ecosystems, while in Pulau Rambut, the forest ecosystem was more dominant in mangrove forests.

Maintain Ethics

Not only at the tower, the census of water birds which was carried out for two days was also carried out at the pier where the entrance to Pulau Rambut is. In addition, to find out the activities of nesting water birds, some of the participants were also invited to enter the mangrove forest.

Accompanied by officers from the DKI Jakarta Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), the participants were asked to maintain ethics, not to disturb nesting birds. The most important thing is not to disturb the birds in order to get interesting photos.

Kevin Drasyanto Cahyadi (29), another participant said he was proud to be able to take part in the water bird census involving citizen science. For him, this activity was a new experience in recording birds. Moreover, the birds on the island which cover an area of ​​45 hectares are large in stature. So that it can be seen clearly.

In addition to the Bluewok bird (Mycteria cinerea) , the black paddy peck (Phalacrocorax sulcirostris), Kevin is also interested in observing the gray cicada (Ardea cinerea) and red cicada (Ardea purpurea).

Even from a distance, they look the same. However, when seen using binoculars, the two birds in the same family appear to be different.

“For me this is a provision, if I go out into nature again I can be more sensitive to seeing birds,” explained Kevin, in between observations. The sensitivity he means includes color characteristics, bird species, and their habitat.

He frankly said, before participating in the bird census while climbing the mountain, he didn’t really care about the existence of warm-blooded animals that reproduce by laying eggs.

However, he finally opened up based on his classification, it seems that the bird’s habitat is different. Apart from that, it turns out that the existence of birds also has a vital role as an environmental balancer in ecosystem components.

This is because birds have a role as a seed breaker, pollinator, pest predator and apex predator. “Instead of being kept, the bird should be allowed to live in the wild,” he said.

Disturbed Foraging Places

Unlike previous years, in 2023, apart from being educated on how to census birds, some of the participants were also invited to take samples of bird feces to examine whether they contained microplastics or not.

Prior to that, the participants were also invited to discuss the dangers of plastic waste for marine ecosystems. Ria Saryanthi, Conservation Partnership Adviser for Indonesian Birds, said that currently the problems faced by water birds are very diverse.

In addition to hunting, human preservation, the existence of plastic waste that pollutes the coast and ocean is also a challenge that must be faced by resident and migrant birds.

Another challenge is that the landscape of coastal wetlands where water birds find food has also turned into settlements. This area change causes the birds to move places.

Yanthi gave an example, the water birds on Pulau Rambut for example. Compared to the previous year, based on data collection conducted for two days, the number of species and populations of birds decreased.

He suspects that the decline in species and bird populations on the island adjacent to Untung Jawa Island is because the land used for foraging has now turned into the planned area of ​​Pantai Indah Kapuk (PIK).

“In order to find out more, more in-depth research is needed,” he explained.

Responding to this, Medrilzam, Director of Environment, Ministry of National Development Planning/Bappenas said that change is a natural phenomenon. Even so, according to him at PIK there should also be built an artificial ecosystem that is friendly to birds and other animals.

In order for the birds not to leave their habitat, what needs to be done is to protect the regional ecosystem. In addition, it is also important to make efforts to restore natural food.

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