Photos: surprises discovered in tiny forest fragment surrounded by palm oil

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
November 10, 2010



Researchers have uncovered an astounding number of species in a tiny protected forest fragment surrounded on all side by palm oil plantations in the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Researchers with the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), Queen Mary, University of London and the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE – University of Kent) recorded sun bear (Helarctos malayanus), Malayan tapir (Tapirus indicus), the banded langur (Presbytis femoralis), and agile gibbons (Hylobates agilis), but most notable, was the first record ever of the Ridley's leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros ridleyi) in Sumatra. The discoveries highlight the importance of preserving even small forest fragments surrounded by agriculture.

"Protecting large areas of connected forest will always be a priority for wildlife conservation, but if ambitious future plans for oil palm expansion are realized, conserving forest fragments within oil palm landscapes will also be important for maintaining Indonesia’s biodiversity," said Sophie Persey, ZSL Biodiversity and Oil Palm Project Manager, in a press release.


The banded langur (Presbytis femoralis) is classified as Near Threatened by the IUCN Red List. Like most other animals in the region, the banded langur is threatened by habitat loss. Photo courtesy of ZSL.
The wildlife was recorded in a 300 hectare (741 acres) forest fragment that is managed as a conservation area by the palm oil company. Many of the species discovered are globally endangered, including Ridley's leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros ridleyi), which is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List.

"This species is a forest specialist species as it depends on the availability of large hollows in forest trees to roost in and would therefore be unable to survive in an oil palm monoculture," Persey told the Jakarta Globe.

Sumatra is a major battleground for deforestation in Asia. The Indonesian island has lost 40% of its lowland forests in just 15 years, from 1990 to 2005, largely due to industrial monoculture expansion, such as palm oil and pulp and paper, and logging. The island is the only place in the world where orangutans, tigers, elephants, and rhinos all survive, though in ever-dwindling populations.

"The finding of this survey suggests that a network of forest fragments may be appropriate for some species of high conservation concern. The scientific community needs to continue to support the business community to find ways in which our threatened wildlife can persist in these managed areas over the long-term," says survey-leader Dr. Matthew Struebig of Queen Mary, University of London and DICE.




The first recorded Ridley's leaf-nosed bat (Hipposideros ridleyi) in Sumatra. Photo by: Matthew Struebig.




The Malayan tapir is classified as Endangered by the IUCN Red List with its population on the decline. Habitat loss and hunting are the biggest threats. Photo courtesy of ZSL.




The sun bear is classified as Vulnerable by the IUCN Red List. Like the tapir it is threatened by habitat loss and hunting. Photo courtesy of ZSL.







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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (November 10, 2010).

Photos: surprises discovered in tiny forest fragment surrounded by palm oil .

http://news.mongabay.com/2010/1110-hance_leafnosed.html