2 May 2008

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Mulu Batcam

Mulu National Park took another step forward in understanding and respecting the millions of bats at Deer Cave in the national park with the launching of the first webcam of real time unintrusive viewing of the mammals in their natural habitat.

The Mulu Batcam facility was launched by Prince Albert II of Monaco during his first visit to Mulu on Sunday.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu and State Secretary Datuk Amar Wilson Baya Dandot were among those present during the launching ceremony.

The group braved the rain, walking through the three-km walkway through the verdant virgin rainforest, to reach Deer Cave, where the iconic image of Lincoln profile has filled promotion brochures and many travel magazines around the world.

The Mulu Batcam project, regarded as another innovative ecotourism development by the state government, was conceived and implemented by Borsamulu Park Management Sdn Bhd in collaboration with Sarawak Forestry Corporation.

The technical design and implementation of the digital remote wildlife monitoring system was provided by CTG Security Matrix, an international award winning company from Australia, and the project is expected to be entered for another prestigious international award competition.

Mulu Batcam uses five remote controlled special television cameras and infra-red lighting placed inside Deer Cave, home to three million bats, to provide a spectacularly clear detail of bats’ behaviour in their natural habitat with the help of modern digital technology.

Prince Albert and guests were treated to the first hand look of the bats in the caves, including detailed close-up shots of the bats and swiftlets in the cave.

There was a heavy downpour after the visit to the Deer Cave by the Prince and his entourage, and the Batcam revealed the bats staying put in the cave, including caring for their young, grooming and hanging around the huge cave as they forego their meal outside.

Mulu was accorded the world natural heritage site by Unesco in November 2000, and visitors have increased to 25,000 from all over the world, and the arrival of Prince Albert added a touch of royalty to the world renowned site.

Prince Albert later told the local media that he was impressed with Mulu after watching a BBC documentary on the bats of Mulu and learning about the rich bio-diversity in the park from it and hearing personal anecdotes from the commentary director about a year and half ago. With conservation close to his heart, he said Mulu was an amazing spot of natural heritage which should be safeguarded and protected for posterity.

The Batcam project will not only help scientists but will also help to create greater public awareness of the bats and other ecological aspects of Mulu to generate conservation spirit among them.

Earlier, the managing director of Borsamulu Datuk Robert Geneid said Mulu had come a long way since its inception as a national park and eventual Unesco recognition as world natural heritage site.

Human capital development in proper training of park guides, singage, guide books and others together with infrastructure development under Borsamulu have now placed Mulu on the path of world renowned ecotourism destination, he said.
With locals as stakeholders, the park currently employs 80 local staff in park management and another 200 as local guides, while the Mulu Resort employs and trains another 80 to international standard in the tourism industry.

Her Excellency Evelyne Genta, His Excellency Achille Kallakis, Deputy Minister of Tourism Dato Sri Sulaiman Abdul Rahman Taib, Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industries Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan and Telang Usan assemblyman Lihan Jok were also present to witness the ceremony.

Meanwhile, Prince Albert released 40,000 fish fry into the Melinau River on his way to the Clearwater Cave where the royal visitor launched the mini regatta before proceeding to have breakfast at the foot of the cave.

They later left for Miri where they had lunch before flying off to Singapore.


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