RA/Video records Sumatran Rhinos' population
Video frame grab image provided by the WWF, a rare Sumatran rhino makes his way through the jungles of Sabah state in Malaysia. AFP
LAHAD DATU (Bernama) - The use of camera and video 'traps' have helped to monitor the population of the Sumatran rhinoceros in Sabah's Danum Valley, an effort by the WWF Malaysia and Honda Malaysia.
On Honda's contribution, Raymond said the funds allocated by Honda Malaysia is used for work like conducting enforcement patrols, research on the rhinos' population as well as for training given to the project's workers.
Since the visual capturing gear was installed last February, seven pictures of the Sumatran rhinoceros (rhinos) had been recorded. The first video visual was recorded last April.
Project manager Raymond Alfred said the cameras and video recorders had contributed much in the effort of moni-toring and conserving the number of Sumatran rhinos in the Danum Valley.
"This method is an effective way to detect the presence of Sumatran rhinos as it is very difficult to detect the presence of these mammals as they can sniff the presence of humans within a 500m radius," he said during the recent visit by members of the media at the Sumatran rhinos' conservation project site in Danum Valley.
To date, 10 cameras and 12 video recorders have been set up at several locations in the valley. The instruments were installed at spots known to be frequented by these mammals, such as their usual paths and salt licks.
The cameras and video recorders were procured using part of the RM5 million fund allocated by Honda Malaysia for the project to conserve the Sumatran rhinos in Sabah's Danum valley as well as in Perak's Belum Forest.
Each of the project was allocated RM2.5 million. The five-year project began last year. The 43,000 hectare-wide Danum Valley falls under the Class 1 Forest Reserve and managed by the Sabah Foundation Forestry Management Unit.
Raymond said the visual-capturing gear was installed on tree trunks and would capture visuals of any animal that passes in front of the trees and as well as that of the tree's vicinity.
He said for every two weeks, the projects rangers would check the equipment and would also look for tell-tale signs that indicate the rhinos had passed the area like the smell of the mammals' urine and their foot marks.
Raymond said the team of rangers would be in the jungle for five to seven days to finish their work apart from collecting any data relating to the rhinos' presence.
Raymond also said the rangers would also check out whether poachers had ventured into the area.
"We have to deal with these poachers as their illegal activities pose threats to the number of Sumatran rhinos apart from obstructing our efforts to conserve these almost extinct mammals," he said.
Since the Sumatran rhinos' conservation project was initiated in 2005, the WWF Malaysia as well as the Sabah Wildlife and National Parks Department and Sabah Foundation had stepped up patrols by game rangers in areas like Ulu Segama Malua in the Danum Valley.
"To make the enforcement more effective, the Forestry Department have appointed several WWF Malaysia personnel as honorary game rangers. This has paved the way for us to set up our own patrol unit to enforce the Wildlife Enactment 1998," said Raymond.
According to Raymond, based on the 2005 figures, there were 13 Sumatran rhinos in the Danum Valley Sumatran rhinos' conservation project area, but based on smaller foot prints found this year, it is believed that there are 16 such mammals in the valley now.
He said based on checks by the Sabah Forestry Department this year, it is believed that there are five to seven Sumatran rhinos in Tabin forest Reserve making the total number of these mammals in Sabah to be between 25 and 50.