The project is off to a great start! In January we arrived in Borneo with 56 camera traps and other field gear, and set off for the remote Maliau Basin of central Sabah. We spent about two weeks in the basin, hiking throughout the primary rainforest, the logged forests, and the strange but interesting “heath forest” on the southern plateau. None of these areas have ever been properly surveyed for wildlife and, while we have a general sense of what kinds of animals are out there, we don’t know how many there are of each species, or what habitats they live in. Maliau is truly a “lost world” –a complete circle of steep mountains protecting some of the last intact rainforest in all of Southeast Asia; straight out of Lord of the Rings. We set out all of the cameras, and they’re out there right now –quietly snapping photographs of the beautiful and secretive animals that walk by. The information provided by these photographs will be invaluable. We’ll be able to assess the abundance and habitat selection of clouded leopards, smaller carnivores, and the ungulates, primates, and rodents on which they feed. We’ll be able to determine how logging and hunting affect different wildlife species. And we’ll take the first steps in putting together the data to build a wide-scale, long-term conservation management plan for the area, which will ensure that wildlife remains safe in the face of human disturbances and climate change.
We’re currently planning a return trip to Borneo in the next few weeks. On that trip we will pick up the cameras from Maliau and download all of the data. We’re then beginning phase II of the project, where we commence similar wildlife surveys in three additional parts of Borneo, national parks called Gunung Mulu, Pulong Tau, and Lambir Hills. If wildlife is there, we’ll find it and work to save it!
-Jedidiah Brodie, TFG Affiliate