Basking with Birds and Sampling Streams in Langkawi

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In March, EFT took a trip to Langkawi. The 10-11 year olds got right into exploring the island at Durian waterfall. While enjoying the cool stream, they learned how to conduct a freshwater ecosystem survey. Students tested and compared aspects of water quality, including pH, ammonia, nitrates and nitrites, between a disturbed and undisturbed site. They tried their hands at freshwater sampling, which included sweeping the streams for invertebrates and identifying them. Students also conducted a rainforest survey: within quadrats, groups worked together to measure light intensity, canopy cover, and tree abundance. These two introductory surveys taught the group how to implement scientific methods in the field.

The second day featured a two-hour boat tour with spectacular views of the extensive mangrove forest nestled among the towering limestone cliffs of Kilim Karst Geoforest Park. Long-tailed macaques chased the boats along the shore, accustomed to being fed by tourists. We spotted a mangrove pit viper wound around the mangrove roots and saw spectacular numbers of Brahminy kites and white-bellied sea eagles swooping across the sky. The students also got a chance to get their hands dirty for the sake of the environment, planting over 80 mangrove seedlings as part of a mangrove restoration project.

Hornbill sightings were another highlight of the three-day trip. Fortunately for us, many of the trees in the canopy layer of Gunung Raya rainforest were fruiting -- the ideal time to spot hornbills snacking on the abundance of fruit. While trekking through the rainforest, one of the local guides called the group over for an exciting sight, a hornbill feeding his babies. The oriental pied hornbill coughed up the fruits and dropped them through a small hole into the nest cavity in the side of an emergent tree. The short but immersive trip was packed full of adventure, amazing flora and fauna, field surveys and beautiful ecosystems.

Emma Su - EFT Biologist