(NST) The adult green peafowl is a rare species that never fails to attract local and foreign tourists.
KUALA LUMPUR: The rare Green Peafowl (Pavo muticus) has been given a new lease of life in the Ajil Pheasant Park in Terengganu.
The 0.7ha park will breed the birds in the hope of reintroducing them into the wild. The bird was last spotted in Peninsular Malaysia in 1958.
Park operator Oh Siong Lai said: “The pheasants, which are among the most beautiful birds in the world, are attracting local and foreign tourists. We are working with the state government to ensure the success of the project”.
The park, listed as the biggest pheasant sanctuary and breeding farm in the Malaysia Book of Records, houses more than 600 species of birds. An impressive 38 out of the 49 pheasant species in the world are found here.
“We have imported Green Peafowls from Australia to kick-start the project,” said Oh.
A teacher in Ajil, Oh started rearing pheasants as a hobby nine years ago with three pheasants which he bought for RM100.
“But when I found out that some pheasants were facing extinction, I went on the Internet to learn more about breeding them. I wanted to save them so future generations can enjoy their beauty.”
He is also planning to include small mammals such as foxes and porcupines to complement the deer and several species of monkeys he already had.
“I’ve also designed a herb garden for scholars and researchers. But this is still in the early stages as the cost of maintaining the park exceeds the collection from entrance fees,” he said.
They say it’s just a zoo
HULU TERENGGANU: The development of the pheasant sanctuary here has drawn mixed reactions from conservationists.
Malaysian Nature Society Terengganu chapter vice-chairman Anuar Abdullah McAfee said the bird sanctuary should emulate the Kota Kinabalu City Bird Sanctuary, which was within city limits, and where migrant and resident birds could be found.
The public can venture into the Sabah sanctuary to observe the birds, which are not caged or restricted.
“The Ajil Pheasant Park attracts many visitors. It is breeding and will hopefully reintroduce species once found here but it is a small area holding captive birds for public viewing,” he said.
Conservationist Lim Aun Tiah said a sanctuary must provide free movement. Although the enclosures in the park were reasonably big, the pheasants were still restricted.
Singapore National Biodiversity Centre National Parks Board assistant director (Terrestrial) Dr Geoffrey Davison, who felt the sanctuary was a zoo for pheasants, echoed the same sentiments.
He said one had to take into account how the birds were kept, how many were bred andwhat happened to the young. He was also concerned about some of the birds from Europeancountries and their survival in the Malaysian weather. — By Sean Augustin