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  SOS Rhino : In the News : News From The Field : Monthly Field Report for January 2006
February 2006
  February is another interesting month. It is the month with the shortest number of days – 28 days. Every 4 years, it has 29 days and it is called a leap year. If you are born on 29th February you will celebrate your birthday every 4 years. If your wedding anniversary falls on 29th February, you celebrate the occasion every four years. On the other hand, if you are a daily rated worker, you get less pay during this month. The date to look forward to is the 14th, which is Valentine’s Day. For those who enjoy romance this is the time to show your love ones how much you care and love them. For the staffs of SOS Rhino (Borneo) this is a time to get away from the hectic work in Tabin. For 4 days, the field staffs head for Penampang near Kota Kinabalu to play soccer with the local teams and enjoy the “Sarong” party.

Expedition Sg. Burung, Tabin River

On the 4th February I made a rhino survey along the Tabin river with RPU 2. This was one of my exciting expeditions as our camp along the river was quickly submerged by the rising and surging river. This was my first experience of a major flood in Tabin. Although the risk is high and we were unable to proceed with survey work, I am glad that the RPU took time to learn the use of the GPS, compass and map reading. They also learned to measure the hoof prints. For the newly recruited members, this practical on-the-ground training is beneficial. The training continued when we returned to base camp in Dagat.

Pix shows our camp been submerged by the overflowing Tabin river. A new camp was quickly set up on upper ground nearby. Left: shows RPU members working on the GPS before the flood overwhelmed the camp.

Dr. Edwin and RPU members along the Tabin river

Pix shows RPU members undergoing training supervised by team leader, Suzali Jaya (R) RPU members studying the plastercast of a rhino hoof print.

The Sarong Party – 14th February

The idea of a sarong party was mooted by me with the intention to provide an opportunity for the field staffs to take a break from their jungle work. A sarong is a traditional garb used by the local natives of Sabah. I am just trying to get our young generation to appreciate the sarongs and not to forget our tradition. Sarongs now come in various style and colours, and very popular with western tourists. Our field staffs are mainly local boys from the rural areas. So getting them out of the forest and to the city is to let them see for themselves what city life is all about. One of the best comments was on how expensive it is to live in the city. This particular boy was amused when he has to pay to visit and use the rest rooms! I am trying to impress upon the youth that good life can be found in rural setting. The employment of youth from the local communities into the RPU is expected to provide the foundation of a strong and permanent protection entity in Tabin.

While in Penampang, SOS Rhino soccer team played two matches with the local teams. The team won one of the two matches. The Sabah team is called “The Rhinos”. I think the SOS Rhino (Borneo) soccer team is the genuine "Rhinos".

Pix shows Lynn (standing left) with SOS Rhino (Borneo) soccer team.

Fred Bagley’s Visit to Sabah

Fred Bagley, a wildlife Biologist, Division of International Conservation of the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) visited Sabah from 16th to 25th February 2006. His mission was to see for himself the projects funded by USFWS. Fred has come at a time when the east coast was experiencing heavy downpours. He spent sometimes in Sukau, Kinabatangan with an NGO called HUTAN, and understands the plight of the orangutans and the conservation efforts by the local people. Later, he took off in a helicopter to visit Danum Valley with WWF-Sabah officials. On 21st Fred visited SOS Rhino’s project in Tabin reserve. He spent the night in Dagat village and enjoyed the hospitality of the village chief and his family. The next day, he spent the night at Tabin Wildlife Resort before flying back to Kota Kinabalu on 23rd. SOS Rhino hosted a dinner for Fred at Jesselton Hotel. The Honourable Assistant Minister of Tourism Datuk Haji Karim Bujang, the Chairman of Sabah Tourism Board YM Tengku Adlin, and Chairman of Tabin Wildlife Resort, Ms Margaret Fung were the VIPs at the dinner. On 24th Fred met up with Sabah Wildlife Department officers and later was hosted to a dinner by WWF-Sabah. Dr. Nan Schaffer, President of SOS Rhino was with Fred during his tour, except to Danum Valley.

Pix shows Fred & Nan stranded in Tabin when their vehicle was damaged due to the bad condition of the road. Pix on left shows Fred and Nan struggling through the thick mud

Pix shows Fred having a traditional dinner with the Dagat village chief (R ), Lynn (Field Coordinator) and Alexter (Volunteer Coordinator). Pix on left shows Fred on wildlife viewing in Dagat accompanied by Dr. Dr. Edwin Bosi, Dr. Nan, Lynn and RPU members.

Pix shows Fred being presented with a book on Sabah by YM Tengku Adlin. Looking on are Hon. Assistant Minister Datuk Hj Karim Bujang, Ms Margaret Fung and Dr. Nan Schaffer.

Pix show Fred being interviewed by reporters: Irene Obon, from New Sabah Times (left) and Muguntan Vanar, from the national newspaper, STAR.

Jakarta Meeting

Nan and I proceeded to Jakarta, Indonesia to attend a meeting on the Indonesian Rhino Conservation Strategy on 27th to 28th February. On the1st and 2nd March, the meeting will be of the Global Propagation and Management Board (GPMB). The 2-day meeting in Indonesia is to review its 1994 Rhino Management Plan. Indonesia has two species and are critically endangered – the Sumatran and Javan rhino.

Pix shows Dr. Nan Schaffer in the Rhino Strategic Planning meeting in Atlet Hotel, Jakarta. Later, a special dinner was hosted by rhino supporter and donor, Peter Hall (3rd left). In the dinner were Dr. Edwin Bosi, Pak Widodo, Pak Effendy, Dr. Nan Schaffer, Christy Williams, Dr. Tom Foose, Dr. Agil, Pak Marcella, Dr. Terri Rott, Dr. Nico Van Strien, Gert Polet, Jeff Holland, Kerry Crosbie and Fred Bagley.

Some interesting Fauna and Flora of Tabin

Pix shows prized freshwater shrimps in Dagat. Prawns are the main source of income to the people in Dagat. These prawns are brought down to the estuary by the flood water where they lay their eggs. The hatchlings spend at least 10 days in brackish water to grow before gradually moving upstream to more fresher water. Within three months, they are ready for harvesting. Picture on left shows the traps used to catch prawns. The fishermen placed burned coconut kernels inside the traps to lure the prawns. The other method to catch prawns is the use of cast nets.

Pix shows Dr. Christina Wong and a “ball-forming” millipede. Pix on left shows an edible mushroom (fungi). The local calls it ‘kulat tikus’ and literally translated as ‘rat mushroom’.

Pix shows a long tailed Macaque swimming to safety and a large Monitor Lizard

Pix shows an egret that patiently waits to strike its prey and a fashionable moth (pix left).

Welcome our new Volunteer Coordinator

SOS Rhino (Borneo) has recruited Alexter Japrin as volunteer coordinator effective 2nd February 2006. He has a diploma in travel and tourism management from the Asian Tourism Institute (ATI). Alexter is now in Tabin forest with one of the RPUs undergoing a familiarization tour. He will be responsible for coordinating the volunteers and will work closely with Lynn, the Field Coordinator.

Pix shows (left) Alexter Japrin (Volunteer Coordinator) and Lynn (Field Coordinator)

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