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

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Project update 13: Project Pteropus takes small baby steps out of the roost

It’s been another long while since we’ve been able to post any updates! We do apologise for those of you who were wondering what we’ve been up to for the past few months. Many of Rimba’s researchers took a bit of a hiatus over the Christmas and New Year period, and the start of 2014 has been taken up with a lot of planning and preparation. Things are slowly starting to pick up now, and we’ll be sharing more updates with you over the coming months.

To begin with, we’re very pleased to officially announce that one of our latest projects, Project Pteropus, is finally taking off this year. It’s had a very bumpy start trying to get off the ground (pun intended!), but we’ve been making slow progress. Unfortunately, funding is still an issue as we haven’t had much luck bringing in adequate money to carry out the work. But, we’re still persevering, for the sake of the bats! How could we say no to such amazing critters??

Mum and baby flying fox facing a precarious future on Tioman Island
Mum and baby flying fox (Pteropus hypomelanus) facing a precarious future on Tioman Island

Some of you may know that fruit bats, and flying foxes in particular, are Sheema‘s personal cause. These underdogs need our help because bat conservation and research isn’t something that most donors, agencies or NGOs are interested in supporting, despite the importance of bats in maintaining healthy, functioning forests. It’s been hard not to give up in the face of discouraging odds, but she’s now succeeded in making this project the focus of her PhD at MNHN.

After a few recce trips, Project Pteropus has now been established at the study site of Kampung Juara on Tioman Island, in the State of Pahang. This windswept beach facing the South China Sea is where the bats have chosen to make their home, roosting in tall coconut trees over the sand. This makes faecal collection a real breeze 😛 Continue reading

Publication update 5: Asian tapirs are no elephants…

Captive tapir

…especially when it comes to seed dispersal. Back in March, we highlighted two publications by Ahimsa which look at the role megafauna such as elephants play in shaping our forests. This time, Ahimsa’s looking at a slightly smaller – though still large – herbivore: the Asian Tapir. We’ve already mentioned before how Reuben and Sheema have been involved in a tapir population study. Ahimsa, on the other hand, has been specifically investigating tapir diet and feeding behaviour to find out if they play a role similar to that of elephants. After all, studies in South and Central America have suggested that New World tapirs might be important seed dispersers over there. But, that’s in a world where there are no elephants. So the question Ahimsa is asking is: If elephants disappear, could tapirs step in to fill their big shoes? Continue reading