Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Borneo Bird Race

Bird Race Borneo

The Borneo Bird Race is a team event that sees birders racing through the island of Borneo in search of spotting the most number of bird species.

For the Borneo Bird Race 2014, nine international teams took part in the race where all teams set out on a 10-day bird hunt to spot as many species of birds in a given time.

The objective of the Borneo Bird Race is a simple one, where it is to create worldwide attention to conserve the forests habitat of Borneo birds and also to promote birding in Borneo.

Why a Borneo Bird Race?

The entire objective of the Borneo Bird Race is to change the birding landscape in Asia, by creating more media attention and raising status of birdwatching locations to protect and conserve the area.

It gives birders their greatest challenge to conquer Borneo’s tough environment which is 90% humidity, rain, and of course the beautiful sunshine.

Birders from all walks of life who strongly care about the natural environment gathered together for this event. It also drives global media attention upon the adventure and fun of birding in Borneo. 

Birdwatching in Sabah Borneo
Birdwatching in Sabah Borneo 
How does the Borneo Bird Race work?   



Teams of three birders will travel more than 1000 kilometres in 10 days, and in search of more than 200 species of birds in a wide range of habitats.

These places range from the coastal regions, freshwater swamps, and lowland forests, to the hills and mountain ranges of Brunei, Sarawak and Sabah.

At the end of the day, each team will enjoy the beauty of this land as they count the numbers of recorded species, and the longest list shall earn the prestigious “Bornean Bristlehead Trophy”.

Borneo Bird Race 2014 Brunei
Ulu Temburong National Park in Brunei - One of the stops for the Borneo Bird Race
Who organizes the Borneo Bird Race?



The Borneo Bird Race was founded by birders and naturalist, and organised by the Sandakan Borneo Bird Club (SBBC), and also sponsored by the Tourism boards of Brunei, Sabah and Sarawak.

What does SBBC gain from this? Overall, more energy, more event profile and more interest from potential sponsors, more teams, good publicity and also raising funds for bird conservation in Sabah and Borneo.



Borneo Endemic Birds
Endemic birds of Borneo
How many birds can be seen during the Bird Race?



It can vary according to weather conditions, the experience and skill of the teams, the challenges of different forest habitats, and lots of luck.

In total, there are over 600 birds found throughout the island of Borneo, but in reality, you will not see them all and organisers estimate spotting at least 200 to 300 birds during this race. 

When is the Borneo Bird Race? 

The Borneo Bird Race was held on 24 September to 3 October, 2014. Starting at Kota Kinabalu, Sabah and ending at Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei.

The duration of this bird race in Borneo is also 10 days, which includes travel from state to country around Borneo. 

Map of Borneo Bird Race
Ther map of the Borneo Bird Race
Where is the Borneo Bird Race?  



The bird race will be held in various locations of Brunei, Sabah and Sarawak on the spectacular island of Borneo.

In 2013, competing team totals have ranged from 70 to 112 species, with an average of 85 species of birds spotted during the previous Borneo Bird Race. 

Unfortunately, Kalimantan Indonesia did not participate in the race, but they did send a representative to follow along with the race to see how it was conducted.



Sabah Hornbill Species
The many Hornbill species of Sabah Borneo.
When is the Next Borneo Bird Race? 

This has been a popular question asked by many birders, who are keen to participate for the next Borneo Bird Race.

However, to organise and manage a race of this size, it is no easy feat. A state run race is much easier to handle that a nation to nation race.

I spoke to the organizers about the next race, and it was all in the hands of each of the tourism boards from the respective state or country.

This means that all tourism boards from Sabah, Sarawak, Brunei and possibly Indonesia Kalimantan, must come to a decision and commitment to help host the Borneo Bird Race.

Funding is the main criteria for the race to happen, and it takes a lot of logistic planning, marshalls participation, travelling, and many other unseen areas.

And you cannot just run a bird race with minimal funding, as it will never work. Hence, the organisers have been talking to tourism boards about this, but budgets seem to be the biggest obstacle.

For now, there has been no talk about the next Borneo Bird Race, but if it does happen, I will surely be publicizing it here and also on Bird Watching Asia

Borneo Bird Race 2014 Mission Statement

The mission is quite clear and straightforward, where the entire objective is - To increase appreciation, understanding, and conservation of birds through education, recreation, nature tourism, and conservation fund raising.

To see and understand more, here is a video of the Borneo Bird Race which gives you a better perspective of what goes on. 

2014 Borneo Bird Race
The official poster for the Borneo Bird Race.
Conclusion

For any bird enthusiast or birders out there, this would be one of the best platforms to spot the unique birds in the vast rainforest of Borneo.

Your journey will take you across three regions of the island of Borneo seeing the different conditions and birds at every stop.

You will also be immersed by the amazing hospitality and culture of the people there. Not only that, you will most likely spot some of the endemic birds of Borneo during the Borneo Bird Race. 

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