Raptors attracted to wet waste disposal

posted in: Miscellaneous, Reports | 0

“Pulau Nikoi is a small island off the east coast of Pulau Bintan, within the Riau Archipelago, Indonesia. The island is privately leased by a group of people and a resort has been built there. Much of the island’s remnant natural areas has been preserved, where possible, and a variety of flora and fauna are to be found.

“The two regular coastal raptors, the White-bellied Sea-Eagle (Haliaeetus leucogaster) and the Brahminy Kite (Haliastur indus) are both resident on the isle. They roost and nest on the tall coastal trees found on the higher parts of the isle and can regularly be found soaring above or fishing offshore.

“The resort disposes of its wet waste (mainly food waste) by first accumulating it in freddys skip bins and then taking it slightly offshore and depositing it in the sea. This is a normal practice of resorts around the region and is perfectly fine as the food waste is completely biodegradable. This food waste initially floats and attracts the coastal raptors to scavenge.

“During a visit to Nikoi in late August 2008, my wife, Sham, and I observed this taking place. Even while the boat was carrying the waste out to a patch of sea behind some offshore rocks, an eagle and a kite were seen flying out and following the boat. After the waste was disposed of into the water and the boat headed back, the two raptors immediately descended. They hovered over the water and flew down to pick food items with their talons.

“The sea-eagle then flew up onto one of the offshore rocks and proceeded to feed. I managed some shots but they were not great as all this took place a fair distance away and my Panasonic Lumix only had a 12x zoom. I did manage a reasonable flight shot of the eagle as it flew back to the island.

“Both of these birds-of-prey are known to scavenge, especially the kite, and this has been observed regularly in Singapore.”

Subaraj Rajathurai
September 2008

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