Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Conserving Mangroves for the Fauna

By: Azlan Abdul Rahman

The mangrove forest is among the precious natural forests in Malaysia. Mangrove forests in Malaysia can be found along the shores of peninsular Malaysia and also in Sabah and Sarawak. The forests lie from the west coast of peninsular Malaysia starting from Sungai Merbok, Kedah and continue fencing up all the beaches along Kuala Gula and Matang in Perak to Kuala Selangor and beaches along Johor. They can also be found in several places in Kelantan, Pahang as well as Terengganu.

Mangrove forest serves several functions to humans as it is a natural buffer from strong wind and storm, acts as a stabilizing agent of the coastal area and also provides breeding and nurturing ground for flora as well as fauna. Flora and fauna rely heavily upon the mangroves as their habitat and also as a place to find food. There are many kinds of animals that can be found in the mangrove forest .

Bird is one of dominant species which can be found in the mangrove forests. Several species of birds can be found in mangrove areas. Among them are the Mangrove Pitta, Mangrove Blue Fly-catcher, White-Collared Kingfisher, Litter Tern and many more. They choose mangrove forest as their personal habitat, breeding ground and also for food and survival. In addition, mangroves serve a great function in conserving the endangered Milky Stork. This bird is protected under the international wildlife protection because they are vulnerable and threatened by humans. At present, only a small number of this bird still exist and the species can only be found in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia.

Besides birds, several species of mammals and reptiles’ survival depends heavily upon the mangrove forest. The Malayan Tiger, the Smooth Otter, the Proboscis Monkey and the Malayan Tapir are among some of the endangered animal species which treat mangroves as their main home and a place to find their food source. Their preys are generally small animals such as birds, fishes, snakes and several kinds of clams and shells. The Estuarine Crocodile is another example of endangered species of reptile that makes the mangrove forest its home. This crocodile chooses to live and to breed in the mangrove area because of the suitability in its soil, tide and beach.

Fishes, crabs, prawns, clams and shells are very synonymous to the mangrove forest. We can find lots of fish species like Archer Fish, Mud Skipper and Green-Spotted Puffer Fish swimming and playing around the root of the mangrove trees. Clams, mussels and shells can also be easily found in mangrove areas. They not only serve as food for the animals but also a delicacy to man. Fishermen often collect them, not only for consumption, but also as a selling profit in the fisheries business. Additionally, they are not only valuable to the animal and man but also they are considered an important agent in completing the natural chain of food and live in our environment.

So, we need to conserve these mangrove areas if we want to conserve the lives of these valuable species of animals. Please conserve the mangroves to ensure a better life and future for our own survival with the natural environment.

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