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  SOS Rhino : In the News : News From The Field : Monthly Field Report for March 2006
March 2006

In Jakarta, Dr. Nan and I attended the Global Propagation Management Board meeting at Atlet Century Park Hotel on 1st March. The GPMB has specifically discussed a paper in response to the Indonesian authorityfs intention of moving US-born Sumatran rhino Andalas to Way Kambas, and moving Bina to Cincinnati Zoo. The GPMB technical committee has given its approval after hearing several comments from its members. One of the issues raised by Dr. Edwin Bosi is the level of competency in rhino reproductive biology. He has proposed that a special technical meeting to address this issue should be held soon in view of the proposal in moving these rhinos from Indonesia to USA and vice versa. The committee has agreed that Cincinnati Zoo should lead in this technical meeting.

Pix shows the GPMB meeting in progress.

Pix on left shows Pak Inov, ProgramOfficer for Javan Rhino conservation (3rd from left) with his team that supported the meeting.

On my return from Jakarta, I was already preparing to make a special excursion into Tabin reserve with seven volunteers from the 5th to 9th March 2006. Aleisha Caruso, the U.N Ambassador of Wildlife to Australia was on her second trip to Tabin. Aleisha has just completed her promotional trip to China for the endangered Panda and made a brilliant decision to make a stopover in Sabah to promote the Sumatran rhino of Borneo. She was accompanied by Ashley Young who is also on her second trip, Chantal Caruso and Trevor Paddenburg. The other group was led by Tengku Puteri Soraya the daughter of YM Tengku Adlin, Chairman of Sabah Tourism Board. Tengku Puteri Soraya or TPS in short is involved in adventure expedition. Her trip to Tabin reserve is to assess the potential of this area for such activity. With her were Bob Chee, an Engineer based in Perth, Australia and Lim Kwee, a businessman dealing with outdoor activity based in Brunei Darussalam. Lim Kwee has just opened a similar outlet at Wawasan Plaza in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.

Aleisha and her three companions took the opportunity to stay with the Dagat village chief, in a home-stay program initiated by JICA-Sabah Wildlife Department. The hospitality of the Dagat chief and his family was overwhelming. The food was fantastically great. Except the rice the menu comprise of fresh prawns, young banana vegetable, fish and mollusc. These are natural resources gathered within the village environment.

The group not only has the chance to sample the delicious food cooked by the wife of the village chief but also, the tradition way of eating | using the fingers. However, the food cooked by the RPUs in the forest was equally tasty and yummy.

Pix shows Trevor, Aleisha, Ashley and Chantal on arrival at Dagat base camp. They came in when the water tide was low and had to push the boat to deeper water. Notice their muddy legs.

Tengku Soraya, Lim Kwee and Bob Chee enjoying lunch in a stall in Lahad Datu.

Pix shows the group enjoying a traditional dinner while below shows Aleisha and Tengku Soraya having tea with Dagat village chief.

Pix shows Trevor, Ashley and Aleisha testing the hammock.

The view of the campsite from the other side of the river. For the first time, tents have been introduced for the RPUs to reduce usage of saplings. Also, notice the huge tree that fell across the river and impeded our progress upstream.

Pix shows Team Leader, Suzali briefing the survey team on what to look for prior to the trekking. A nice reward after a tough trekking was a yummy lunch prepared by the RPU.

Pix shows two members of RPU making fried rice for breakfast.

Aleisha visiting the post-flood SOS Rhino (Borneo) base camp at Tanjung Utik. It is now under two feet of soft mud.

Interesting fauna and flora encountered

Pix shows a Borneon orchid at Tabin Wildlife Resort. On right, is one of the edible mushrooms found in Tabin reserve.

Pix shows droppings of a civet comprising mainly seeds. Civet plays an important role as seed dispersal agent.

A common freshwater carp found along Tabin river.

Pix shows three hornbills flying passing by our campsite while on right, was a Brahminy Kite that constantly hovering above our camp and gspyingh on us.

SOS Rhino (Borneo) Volunteer

Jose poses at Lahad Datu rhino statue

Pix shows Dr. Edwin Bosi with a volunteer from Portugal, Jose

Jose Dias Ferreira is a Mammal and Bird Curator at Lisbon Zoo, Lisbon, Portugal. He has heard of our efforts to save the Sumatran rhino from extinction through our international sponsors in wildlife conservation. Unlike his predecessor, Alfonso de Albuquerque the conqueror, who sailed the seas, Jose took a flight in! And, for 19 days he was a SOS Rhino Borneo ecaptivef and eentrappedf in the wilds of Tabin. He kept abreast with the fast paced but agile footed and confident RPU members. He had first hand experience on the struggles of the patrol unit in searching for the elusive rhino, endless trekking, traversing rivers (swollen within minutes after a heavy downpour), slippery vertical ascend and descending terrain, food rationing, just to name a few of the routine challenges of our protection unit. Jose joined our RPU 1 members, under Frederic Micheal, a.k.a. gJJh (RPU 1 Team Leader). Jose promises to spread news of our effort to his side of the world. Obrigado, Thank-you, in Portuguese.

Development Officer visited Tabin

Gem Asildo, SOSRB Development Officer finally found a window to go to Tabin. She arrived in Lahad Datu on 9th March and spent 10 days with the Field Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator and the RPUs.

She files her report:

gBetter late than nevercat long last I get to encounter for myself the wilds of Tabin. Our staffs had a field day in Tabin this March as we had volunteers coming and going. At the airport, on my flight in, I met the Aussies (Aleisha and her gang) and Tengku Sorayafs group, all under the care of Dr. Edwin.

Lynn, Marikus and I made our way to Tungku on March 10th to meet up with Amitfs and Miltonfs team who were headed to their outpost. On hand to greet us was the Head Village (Miltonfs father). I followed the RPUs to their base camp to drop them off, rain poured out from the sky as we manoeuvred into the base camp hampering my intention of staying a while longer. Johnny, field assistant cum driver and I had to exit pronto to avoid being stranded on our way back as the bunch of streams we passed through earlier might overflow. Alas, we returned to Tungku as dusk sets in, we had a long way to go to Tabin-Trekforce base camp. I made my way up to Dagat with Johnny on the following day passing through our Tabin Trekforce base camp which was deserted except for Rasaman who was waiting for us, the rest has gone to their outpost. Dagat awaits us for another 2 hours on rough, bumpy, muddy and slippery road! Our land journey ends, and we were met by Erman on a boat for Dagat base camp. Suzali (RPU 2 Team Leader) and the rest of his team gave a warm welcome as I settled in and Suzali briefed me on our jungle trek and survey which begins the next day. I spent 8days and 7nights with Suzalifs team. The jungle experience was good as I get to acknowledge the abilities of our RPU to carry out their patrolling and survey tasks. Map, GPS, compass and, callipers were among the most important equipments for a rhino survey besides other necessities. All members are well trained in handling these equipments and situations. Our team is also equipped with digital cameras, cameras get spoilt easily due to the forest environment i.e. weather, humidity and the like and it is costly to maintain but nonetheless a necessity for the survey as evidences.

The day after our return to base camp in Dagat (March 17th) , we were joined by Jose our volunteer from Portugal, Lynn, Alexter and Marikus who came over from Tabin Trekforce camp.

That was my trip from one base camp to another. If you have never seen oil palm plantations before, rest assured you will get a feast of it on your way into the Tabin Wildlife Reserve area! And you will have them etched in your mind for a long time, endless stretch. Nonetheless, one gets rewarded with sightings of the eagles, kingfishers, primates, jungle fowl, otters and many more. Yes, the same goes as you trek in the jungle, this reserve land thrives well in wildlife and vegetation, and hopefully our future generation may have the chance to attest to it. An onus (wildlife and environmental conservation) to be borne by all peoples, ensuring that we do not deprive generations to come nor ourselves of this privilege.h Gem.

Below are selected pictures of my trip.

At Tungku with Milton and Amitfs team

gMy Teamh ready for a trek: RPU 2 L-R: Erman, Rasaman, Suhairin, Lusry, Suzali (Team Leader)and, Johnny.

After a hard day of trekking, the team relaxes with informative pocket sized books.

In the brick jungle of Kota Kinabalu, rhino conservation continuesc

Charity Dinner at Charles Place

On 11th March, a charity dinner was organized at Charles Place, one of the finest restaurants in Kota Kinabalu in aid of SOS Rhino (Borneo). Charles Miao the owner of the restaurant was so excited about this charity dinner because Ashley Young, SOS Rhino (Borneo) volunteer from Australia had agreed to perform during the function. In fact the charity dinner was entitled gOne Night with Ashleyh. She brought along a strong entourage from Down Under including the three Carusos; Aleisha, Carolyn and Chantal. Recording artist and composer Ricky Lim was on the organ to provide lots of music and songs.

Ashley and Ricky

Before the dinner started, Charles gave a moving speech on the need to conserve the Sumatran rhino of Borneo. He was very pleased that he could play some part in its conservation. Aleisha gave a great speech on the role of international community in conservation. She is the Australian Wildlife U.N representative and a strong advocate on conservation of endangered species. Dr. Edwin Bosi SOS Rhino (Borneo) Managing Director gave a speech touching on the status of the Sumatran rhino in Borneo.

The collection of the night came to RM380.15. Charles has offered 20% of the proceeds from sales of the night which came to about RM480.00. Earlier in Perth, Aleisha went round in her favourite pub with a donation tin. She raised A$45.00. Carolyn, the big mom of Aleisha and Chantal has raised RM1400.00 for SOS Rhino (Borneo) to purchase a new computer.

Dinner in pictures

Ricky Lim and the Aussie girls

Charles Miao with Tengku Puteri Soraya

Carolyn going around with a donation box

Ashley, Aleisha and Charles in action

Aleisha speaking to the diners

Chantal in action

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