Camera trap photos: big mammals survive in fragmented forest in Borneo

Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com
January 30, 2011






Clouded leopard female and her cub caught on camera trap in a corridor in the vicinity of DGFC. Photo courtesy of Sabah Wildlife Department, Danau Girang Field Centre and HUTAN.

Camera trap photos taken in the fragmented forest along the Kinabatangan River in Borneo have revealed a number of key mammal species surviving despite forest loss mostly due to expanding palm oil plantations. The photos are apart of a recent program to monitor carnivores along the Kinabatangan River in the Malaysian state of Sabah by the Danau Girang Field Center (DGFC), the NGO HUTAN, Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU), and the Sabah Wildlife Department.

"The Kinabatangan Carnivore Program, initiated by our Department, will intend to advance understanding, and the conservation, of the diverse carnivores of the Lower Kinabatangan floodplain," explained Dr. Laurentius Ambu, Director of the Sabah Wildlife Department, in a press release.

"It will be a long-term program which aims to provide insights into Bornean carnivore ecology and density and develop Bornean carnivore species distribution and habitat suitability models," adds Dr Benoit Goossens, Director of the DGFC.

The program is partnering with Andrew Hearn of WildCRU who has spent four years using camera traps to photograph Sunda clouded leopards—the Borneo species of the Asian—throughout the state of Sabah. Although mid-size, clouded leopards are the largest of 5 cat species found on the island of Borneo.

Already the program has captured rare intimate shots of female Sunda clouded leopard with a cub.

"Last November, we were extremely pleased to find a sequence of 12 pictures showing a clouded leopard female and her cub walking along a trail," adds Rob Colgan and Rodi Tenquist, two undergraduates from Cardiff University, who are providing field assistance at DGFC.

One of the major conservation issues along the Kinabatangan is fragmentation: forests have been split by plantations, making it difficult for animal populations to migrate without traversing through palm oil plantations or human habitations.

"The pictures show that these animals rely on forest corridors for moving around forest patches," explains Dr Marc Ancrenaz, co-director of the NGO. "As already shown for other species such as orangutans, gibbons, proboscis monkeys and elephants, these animals need corridors of forest for surviving in the Kinabatangan. Without these corridors, most populations will decline and go extinct. With the disappearance of these key species, not only the ecosystems are not functioning anymore, but the tourism industry will also be negatively impacted. It is really urgent for everybody to collaborate in order to create these corridors before it is too late."




An elephant female and her offspring caught on camera trap near DGFC. Bornean elephants are the smallest subspecies of Asian elephants. Photo courtesy of Sabah Wildlife Department, Danau Girang Field Centre and HUTAN.




A sun bear, the world's smallest bear, caught on camera trap near DGFC. Photo courtesy of Sabah Wildlife Department, Danau Girang Field Centre and HUTAN.




A curious long-tailed macaque. Photo courtesy of Sabah Wildlife Department, Danau Girang Field Centre and HUTAN.




A flanged orangutan male walking on a trail, very close to the Kinabatangan river. Many pictures of orangutans walking on the ground have been taken near DGFC. Photo courtesy of Sabah Wildlife Department, Danau Girang Field Centre and HUTAN.




Another photo of the clouded leopard female and her cub. Photo courtesy of Sabah Wildlife Department, Danau Girang Field Centre and HUTAN.




Another photo of the clouded leopard female and her cub. Photo courtesy of Sabah Wildlife Department, Danau Girang Field Centre and HUTAN.















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CITATION:
Jeremy Hance
mongabay.com (January 30, 2011).

Camera trap photos: big mammals survive in fragmented forest in Borneo.

http://news.mongabay.com/2011/0130-hance_kinabatangan.html