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Nature group regrets removal of rare eagle’s nest on telco tower

Free Malaysia Today logo Free Malaysia Today 11/1/2021 FMT Reporters
a bird sitting on a branch: The white-bellied sea eagle is a totally protected species under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, says MNS. (Youtube pic) © Provided by Free Malaysia Today The white-bellied sea eagle is a totally protected species under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, says MNS. (Youtube pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) has called for a policy to address birds’ nests on electricity pylons or telecommunication towers.

In a statement today, MNS Terengganu said it was informed of an active white-bellied sea eagle nest on a telecommunication tower in Merang, Terengganu, which had newly-laid eggs but was “destroyed” by the tower operators.

The eagles are classified as a totally protected species under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

“This is against the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

“Rather than wait a few months for the family of eagles to raise their young, their future was abruptly terminated,” MNS Terengganu chairman Wong Chee Ho said.

Noting that the country currently lacks any policies on how to deal with nests on towers, Wong proposed a meeting with power company operators in Terengganu, as well as the telecommunication companies that use such towers, to formulate a statewide solution which would be the first for the country.

“We want to create a new policy to better manage this problem in a way that protects wildlife and ensures the safety of all, including meeting the needs of the corporations and the services they provide.

“The costs of monitoring all towers and keeping them nest-free is much more than the cost of supporting new and innovative ways of learning to live with the birds,” he said.

Wong noted that while many eagles have traditionally constructed their nests on tall trees, more of them are using man-made structures instead.

Apart from being taller than many of the surrounding trees and giving birds of prey a better vantage point to survey their territory, such structures are also sturdy and able to support large nests.

With the expansion of electricity distribution over the past century, and the more recent surge in telecommunication towers, more birds are choosing man-made structures to build their nests.

However, nesting birds are known to have disrupted electricity and telecommunication services provided through the towers, while nests made of dry wood and grass can cause fires which lead to service loss for the public and expensive repairs for the companies involved.

Pointing out that birds like the white-bellied sea eagle are territorial, Wong said once they have selected a site to nest, they will return to it year after year and rebuild even if their nests are removed.

While he admitted some nests will have to be removed as they pose a threat to the company and the birds themselves, Wong stressed the need for a policy on nest removal that does not destroy wildlife.

“Power and telecommunication companies need to explore other ways to resolve this conflict,” he said, suggesting a few solutions that could be incorporated.

“One solution could be adding a platform to the towers, placed in a safe location, and made suitable for birds of prey to use as nesting platforms.

“Cameras could be installed to record video of the nesting birds. This video could be shared as a live feed to generate interest among the public and showcase conservation activities of the corporations involved.”

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