Project update 9 + video update 3: Some hairy business

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This camera-shy leopard is part of our latest project update courtesy of Laurie, our current volunteer who’ll be with us till February next year. Besides helping to hold the fort for Reuben’s project up in Gerik, Laurie’s  main mission is to test out the efficacy of hair traps in the Malaysian rainforest – something he’s started trialing since he joined us in September. This pilot project is part of our ongoing mammal surveys in Perak and Terengganu and was made possible through generous funding from the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund.

Laurie and Reuben have been conducting these trials for a new way to shed light on the status of one of the more rare and elusive species of carnivore. So far, Dholes or Asiatic Wild Dogs (Cuon alpinus) have been detected several times at both of these locations. Yet very little is known about this endangered animal, and in an environment notorious for its difficulty to detect species at low density, the challenges in monitoring them are substantial. If hair samples could be collected from these, or other carnivores, they will put together a larger proposal to study their population/density/range size, group association, genetic relationships.

But how to get these samples? Continue reading

Photo update 9: Just how important is the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor?

Between 1999 and 2001, Dr Kae Kawanishi recorded 40  mammal species (including humans) on camera traps during her surveys  in Peninsular Malaysia’s largest protected area in Taman Negara.

It’s now 2012. So far, researchers in Rimba have recorded at least 38 mammal species on camera traps in the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor (~170 sq km), which is around 4% of Taman Negara’s size!  Of the total species count (from camera traps, sightings and tracks), 6 are ‘endangered’ and 9 are ‘vulnerable’ according to the IUCN Red List.

The selectively logged forests within this corridor are vital habitats for Malaysia’s threatened mammals. However, many of them, such as Rimba’s mascot below, face an uncertain future in Kenyir.

Habitat loss (for dam construction and eco-tourism infrastructure) and poaching currently threaten the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor.  This is the only area in Terengganu  where mammals and other wildlife can still cross from Taman Negara towards the forests in Hulu Terengganu. We hope the Terengganu State Government will spare important areas of the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor from further development, and gazette it as Malaysia’s first official Wildlife Corridor!

We now have the latest list of mammal species in Kenyir, as well as recent camera trap photos that depict the five endangered species, their threats, and the signs of hope for Kenyir. Continue reading

Project update 7: MEME Updates, Issue #4

Ahimsa writes: “While half of our team are in the field preparing to collar a bull from Kelantan, here is the new issue of MEME Updates. Catch up with MEME’s new members and recent activities!”

Please note: MEME Updates now has a new online home where each new issue will be uploaded when it comes out. Due to this reason, we will no longer be uploading newer versions of the Updates onto the Rimba website. MEME now also have their own separate website and Facebook page. Please do check out those links if you’d like to find out more about them or also if you’re just interested in Asian elephants!