Video Update 7: Harimau Selamanya

In conjunction with Earth Day, a documentary is being released to call on Muslims to take better care of our planet’s precious biodiversity.

This five-minute film, entitled ‘Harimau Selamanya’, highlights the need to protect our environment in the context of Islam, with a special focus on the plight of the Malayan tiger.

It includes a special appearance by HRH Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, along with experts who impart their knowledge on the responsibility of a good Muslim to protect the planet and its creatures.

This documentary highlights the tenets of Islam, which forbid Muslims from hunting any species to extinction. Such acts are declared as ‘haram’ and every follower is duty bound as ‘caliphs’ to protect Allah’s creations.

Watch the video here!

More details on the background of this video can be found here.

Follow the video’s impact through:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/harimaubuatselamanya/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rimauselamanya

Instagram: https://instagram.com/harimauselamanya

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Press Release: Mysterious black leopards finally reveal their spots

Leopards, found from the frozen forests of Russia to the scorching sands of the Kalahari Desert, are the most widely distributed large cat on earth. Their iconic spotted coat has been admired and coveted by humans for millennia. However, in just one region in their vast range, mysteriously the leopards are almost all entirely “black” or melanistic – the Malay Peninsula. This dark colouration sometimes hides the spotted pattern which all leopards have; the spots just don’t stand out clearly in melanistic individuals.

Spotted!

“This is a completely unique phenomenon for leopards, and represents perhaps the only known example of a mammal with almost an entire population completely composed of the melanistic form of the species” says Laurie Hedges, lead author of a study who just published a population density estimate on these animals in the Journal of Wildlife Management.

Melanism is a trait which can be found across many mammal species, and especially in big felids. Though theories, ranging from the explosion of Mount Toba in Sumatra to competition with tigers, have been put forward to explain how this unique melanistic population has come about, scientists are still puzzled…

Continue reading

Media coverage: In the kingdom of the black panther

Rimba’s mascot takes centrestage in this special coverage by Mongabay! Reuben and our budding ‘carnivore researcher’ Laurie talk to Jeremy Hance about black leopards in Peninsular Malaysia, putting the spotlight on this mysterious and under-studied species. Click on the image below to read all about it!

mongabay panther

Special update: Good news from the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor

Hello all,

This playful dusky leaf langur (Trachypithecus obscurus), which was caught on a camera trap in the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor last week, was all smiles probably because it knew of some good news coming our way. WHAT IS IT??

The first piece of good news is that the Terengganu state government has decided to freeze development along the Kuala Berang highway bisecting the proposed Kenyir Wildlife Corridor, pending recommendations from environmental consultants working for the federal government. These recommendations are to be submitted by the end of the year.

This decision was reached after we shared our research findings in Kenyir with Dato’ Toh Chin Yaw, Terengganu Chairman of Industry, Trade and Environment Committee, Terengganu State Government. Many thanks to Dato’ Toh for sharing the pictures and videos of Kenyir’s biodiversity with other government officials. Yesterday, this piece of great news was covered by a local news portal, fz.com.

The second piece of good news is that we finally got a  camera-trap picture of the elusive seladang or gaur (Bos gaurus) after 2 years of field work in the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor! We only recorded a single individual, which was detected by two separate cameras.

Although we still have a lot to do to secure protection for the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor, we are working closely with the state government to implement our recommendations. For now, we would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the wonderful people who have supported the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor project. Special thanks also go to Anuar McAfee for helping and working with us on this (Anuar also helped us get the flying foxes protected). Stay tuned for more updates!

* Update 8 November 2012: More extensive coverage, from the very excellent Mongabay: click here!

Publication update 9: A lonely snail

Reuben discovered the mysterious snail above in the forests of Kenyir, long ago. It may seem like just an ordinary snail, but to the trained eye of a malacologist (a biologist who specialises in molluscs), it didn’t look like anything he’d found before in Malaysia. In fact, certain distinguishing features set this snail apart from any other snail in Malaysia, so after a lot of research, Reuben and his friend Siong Kiat Tan set about describing it. They discovered that in fact, no other snails in Southeast Asia’s Sundaland shared the same distinguishing features! Not only is it a new species, it’s also a completely new genus! There’s also a possibility that it could be endemic to the Kenyir area.

They’ve named this strange lonely snail Kenyirus sodhii in honour of Kenyir, and also to honour the memory of Reuben’s late university professor and mentor, Prof. Navjot Sodhi. The New Straits Times featured an article about it on Monday (thanks, Sean Augustin!), which you can read here. Also, Continue reading

Special update: Terengganu protects flying foxes!

We’ve got some happy news from Malaysia to help celebrate the Year of the Bat! We’re very pleased to announce that the state government of Terengganu in Peninsular Malaysia has just agreed to protect flying foxes!

Under Peninsular Malaysia’s Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, flying foxes can be legally hunted by applying for a licence from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN). Concerned by the amount of flying foxes being shot by hunters for sport and fun, we submitted a proposal and met with the state executive councillor in charge of environmental affairs. We lobbied for a moratorium on hunting flying fox in the state. We argued that these wonderful creatures need to be given better protection.

And the state government said yes!

From now on, indefinitely, the Terengganu PERHILITAN will no longer issue licences for people to hunt flying fox. They have also been directed to beef up monitoring and enforcement, and to gazette roost sites and important flying fox habitat (e.g. swamps) for protection.

Bats-1; Hunters-0. Thank you Datuk Toh Chin Yaw!!! And thank you PERHILITAN!

We asked the wonderful folks at the environmental desk of The Star if they could help us highlight the issue. They decided to give it extensive coverage. Read more about it here:

Terengganu bans hunting of flying fox

Gliding towards the brink

Hunting rules

Canine look-alike bats

The timing of this positive development couldn’t be better. Did you know that 2011-2012 has been declared the Year of the Bat??? Click on the official logo below to find out more about it and what’s being done across the globe to help bats!

Why our research is important: Massive coverage by The Star!

Hi folks! Our latest media coverage comes to you courtesy of Natalie Heng from The Star. We were pleasantly surprised to find that she’s written not one, but two different articles on Rimba and our work. The first one, ‘Hooking up for science’, talks about what Rimba is all about – what we are, why we were set up, and how we function. The second, ‘The viability of animal crossings in Malaysia’, puts the spotlight on the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor Project, and is a very well-written, excellently researched piece on the issues surrounding roads and how they affect wildlife movement. It helps to explain why the work that’s being done by Reuben and Ahimsa is so important.

Big thanks to Natalie and The Star!!!