Project update 21, publication update 19: Project Pteropus delivers results!

Sheema completed her PhD in Ecology last November, when she successfully defended her thesis at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris. Now comes the good part: sharing the results, data and information from her research! We’re happy to announce that 2 new papers from her thesis just got published this month.

Fruit bats are important ecosystem service providers, pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds over long distances. Instead of protecting these useful flying mammals however, humans are threatening their survival through hunting and persecution.

Finding out what flying foxes eat is a first step towards discovering what flowers they pollinate and what seeds they disperse. This will help strengthen the cause to promote their protection. Project Pteropus started investigating this question in 2015, and now, the results of the analysis are finally out! We’ve made a first start towards answering the question of ‘What do the Tioman Island flying foxes eat?’

Identifying flying fox food plants by collecting and analysing droppings

PeerJ image Continue reading

Project update 20: Harimau Selamanya year 2 in review

The end of 2015 marks the completion of the second year for Project Harimau Selamanya. The year 2015 has been more productive and eventful than we could have ever imagined when we started off! In the space of a year, we have continued deepening collaboration with state and federal government partners. Our field team has also strengthened their fieldwork and wildlife detection skills through professional training and field practice. Best of all, our camera trap efforts have paid off with important data to help with the conservation of Kenyir’s forests! All these were made possible with Perhilitan and the state government’s commitment to project collaboration, as well as the generous funding from Panthera and Woodland Park Zoo.

2015 saw a vibrant field team in Harimau Selamanya headed by Reuben, Wai Yee, Sri and Junn Kitt and staffed by our fantastic field assistants Puyee, Baki, Donos, Maslan, Landur and Rahmat. We were also joined by enthusiastic and conservation-driven research assistants Akmal, Zatul and Shu Woan.

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The 2015 Harimau Selamanya team

The 2015 team oversaw three simultaneously-running major projects: Continue reading

Project update 19, photo update 11, video update 6: Project Pteropus phase 1 in review

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It’s definitely been a crazy, roller coaster ride for Project Pteropus so far! Time flies when you’re having fun, and before we knew it, we’re already in the third and final year of Sheema‘s PhD. We’re due to start a tiny bit more of fieldwork over the next 3 months, then everything needs to be wrapped up pronto as she’ll be on her way to spend 6 months in Paris this June 🙂

So what has the project achieved so far? Some pretty exciting stuff, as it turns out. Almost all the data are in already, but some still need a bit of time to be analysed. We’ve decided to summarise our results so far into an interim report, which is why you’re getting this bumper post that serves as a compilation of updates, photos AND videos all at the same time! 😀

Also, HUGE thanks to Bat Conservation International for awarding us a small grant in September last year. Without this funding we definitely wouldn’t have been able to achieve as much as we have, and we’re deeply grateful. Click on the BCI logo below to find out more about applying for their small grants:

BCI logo

Meanwhile, here’s what we’ve found out up to this point (if you’re just interested in the images and don’t need to read through the information, just scroll down further!): Continue reading

Project update 18: Project Pteropus: Year 1 in review

It’s been an intense roller coaster adventure for Project Pteropus so far! Sadly, we still haven’t been successful in getting much funding, as none of our grant applications last year were accepted. Donors either feel that flying foxes aren’t a priority, Peninsular Malaysia isn’t a priority, or both 😦

Still, this hasn’t stopped us from accomplishing many things last year. Thanks to kind monthly donations from Marinescape of New Zealand – our sole donor – we were still able to carry out some fieldwork.

Reuben and Esteban hard at work collecting flying fox faeces under the burning sun
Reuben and Esteban hard at work collecting flying fox faeces under the burning sun

Much of last year was spent on recces, observations, and testing things out at Kampung Juara. We collected lots of bat droppings, fruits, flowers and seeds. We hiked several jungle trails and observed different trees and what they drop onto the forest floor. We talked to local people in the village, and asked them about their experiences, knowledge and opinions. We counted lots and lots of bats. And we did it all every single month, until the monsoon arrived around November, forcing us to take a break for a few months.

Project Pteropus wouldn't have been possible without help from amazing volunteers, friends and family :-)
Project Pteropus wouldn’t have been possible without help from amazing volunteers, friends and family 🙂

Most of the time, it was just Reuben and Sheema doing much of the work. But we were joined by many, many helpful volunteers who lent a hand, and this project would not have been possible if they hadn’t been willing to come along on our field trips and donate their time and energy! Esteban Brenes-Mora, our Costa Rican volunteer for 6 months, was an especially invaluable asset and is now sorely missed. And we would never have survived without help from Harimau Selamanya members Jasdev, Laurie and Wai Yee, plus our resident botanist Lahiru also made it over to help us identify plants. Huge thanks also to Lim Wee Siong, Anna Deasey, Khatijah Haji Hussin, Kim McConkey, Noraisah Majri, Mahfuzatul Izyan, and Joanne Tong. We’re also super grateful for all the help and support we’ve received from the lovely folk over at the Juara Turtle Project – Charlie, Izzati and Rahim are awesome people doing awesome work, so please check them out! They even donated the services of their volunteer Liz Moleski, who was kind enough to help out when Sheema got struck down by Hand, Foot & Mouth Disease (HFMD – the one that kids get, not cows!) and Reuben had to do a solo sampling trip. Last but not least, Project Pteropus benefited immensely from field visits and input from supportive supervisors Pierre-Michel Forget and Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz. All of these people helped to keep our project afloat and stop it from floundering 🙂

Here are some of the things we found out from last year’s work: Continue reading

Project update 17: Harimau Selamanya: Year 1 in review

As Year 1 of Project Harimau Selamanya draws to a close, we can safely say that we had a very eventful and satisfying maiden year. A big thumbs up from the team, our government partners and our donors is testimony to this.

Happy to do what they do - our indomitable indigenous field assistants in the Core Area
Happy to do what they do – our indomitable indigenous field assistants in the Core Area

In any conservation project, there will be ups and downs.

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Project update 16: Harimau muda!

No, this is not an update on the fortunes of Malaysia’s youth football team, affectionately named Harimau Muda.

Instead, this is the first update on one of Rimba’s youngest (‘muda’ in Bahasa Melayu) projects – Harimau Selamanya!

This newest project only hit the ground running in February and is still very much in its infancy. However, it has been a challenging and eventful last four months!

At the beginning of April, this project began with a one-week tiger sign survey workshop conducted by Panthera (Drs. Joe Smith and Rob Pickles) for research officers (Hakim, Khairul, Fauzi, Alim, Hafiz, Amirul) from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) and researchers (Wai Yee, Laurie, Jasdev and Reuben) and field assistants from Rimba.

Field assistants Uda, Rasul and Daha sniffing out and marking a tiger spray on a leaf. Scent spraying is a very common form of communication among tigers. The liquid used in spraying is not pure urine; it is mixed with scent gland secretions.

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Project update 15: Mango carnage season!

Sheema examines the dozens and dozens of dropped mango fruits to guess the causes of damage

It’s mango carnage season in Tioman!!!

Why do we say that? Well, if you take a look at the photo above, you’ll get an idea of just how many juicy fragrant mangoes have been left to litter and rot on the ground. And that’s not even counting the ones that fell into the river below! Many have been half-eaten or bitten, while others have simply been smashed and destroyed. These have all dropped from one single gigantic tree, and the Project Pteropus team now have a very good idea of who’s responsible for all the carnage, having caught the culprits in the act… Continue reading