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  SOS Rhino : In the News : News From The Field : Monthly Field Report for September 2004
 
MONTHLY FIELD REPORT
SEPTEMBER 2004
  Our sport carnival in Dagat on 31st August was postponed indefinitely due to the arrival of a dozen Japanese tourists. The Japanese visit was part of the JICA's project in the lower segama. JICA is Japanese International Cooperation Agency. They are working closely with the Sabah Wildlife Department through BBEC program. BBEC is Borneon Biodiversity and Ecosystems Conservation, a government-backed program. Habitat management component involving Tabin reserve, a BBEC project, is handled by the Sabah Wildlife Department.

In this respect, the Sabah Wildlife Department has identified an area of 3500 hectares in lower Segama as conservation area. In essence, the conservation area will help connect Tabin Wildlife Reserve to Kulamba Wildlife Reserve in the north. The conservation area will protect the integrity of the riverine forest and in turn assure the villagers of sustainable fish and prawn stocks. It will also provide the eco-nature elements for eco-tourism promotion.

A workshop has been organized on the 11th September in Tomanggong oil palm estate attended by the Sabah Willdlife Department, officials from the Forestry, Department of Environment and Land & Survey, Tomanggong estate managers, JICA officials, community leaders from the Dagat, Parit and Tidung and SOS Rhino. Several journalists came to cover the event. The main decision derived from the workshop is the consent and support by all quarters to the proposed conservation area in lower segama.

Yam Brothers plantation

The Yam Brothers have been supporting SOS Rhino in terms of boat engines and building materials. The Yam Brothers are contractors for several oil palm plantations. Their task is to clear and prepare the land, terracing, planting, and maintaining the oil palms for about a year before handing over to the owner. The Yam Brothers are also involved in other activities such as workshops and constructions.

Incidentally, the Yam Brothers have a 200-acre of oil palm sharing the boundary with Tabin reserve. It is located towards the southeastern part of the reserve. On the 3rd September, I led a team to undertake survey, using Yam Brothers facility as our base camp. In the team included Joe Figel, an American volunteer from Seattle. We noticed very few wild animals during the survey. We did see a pair of Sambar deer, wild pigs and a frog. We heard at least two Sun bears and an adult orangutan very close to the boundary. Few waterfalls were seen. The camp is about 360 m.a.s.l and has an amazing view of the Sulu sea. At night the view become more spectacular with dots of bright lights over the shore. These are big boats involved in catching anchovies or 'ikan bilis'.


Pix shows some of the Orangutan nests observed during the survey


Pix shows a frog yet to be identified

Pix shows one of the beautiful waterfalls found during the survey

Sarinus Aniong continued with the survey after I left for Kota Kinabalu on the 5th. This time his team found the salty spring water. This is about 5 feet radius and some 5 km from the base camp. Liquid samples were taken for analysis. According to Sarinus, the spring water is hot and there are numerous signs of animal hoof prints. Unfortunately, there are also many human trails.


Pix shows a field staff taking GPS reading of spring water

It is already in our planning to work closely with the Yam Brothers so that we can use their facility as our base camp. We are fortunate to observe that the other oil palm plantations in this location are supportive. With proper engagement, we will be able to control the encroachment of people into the reserve, in particular from the southeastern border.

Sarinus led the team on the 15th by road and then trekked into the reserve. Here, Sarinus and his team met up with Dr. Thaya, our research student and his assistants; France and Frederic. Lusri, Marniah and Suzali were also in the camp after re-supplying rations to Thaya and his team. A UK volunteer Mike Sweet, has spent many weeks with Thaya. Re-supplying ration to Thaya is a tedious job. From the north through the trekking will take at least 3 days. From the south, the trekking is only a day. Thus, our future re-supply strategy will be to use the road to the south of the reserve and then, a day of walking. SOS Rhino is keen to see that Thaya completes his research on time.


Pix shows Joe Figel and the team members enjoying over coffee

While in the jungle, Thaya and his team came across a dozen people. They hail from the nearby village and have taken advantage of the public holiday on 16th September. This is the Sabah’s Governor birthday and the actual date Sabah joined the others to form Malaysia.

We have transmitted this finding to the Sabah Wildlife Department. On our part, we will be sending a team to engage with these villagers to educate them about conservation, to inform them that hunting in the reserve is illegal and entering the reserve without a permit is also illegal. We are also requesting oil palm plantations not to allow these people from entering their properties for the purpose of encroaching into the forest reserve.

Clearing of private land is occurring along the Tabin boundary. Our teams have seen logs staked along the road outside the reserve. As a precaution, we have taken GPS readings and photographs and reporting them to the Forestry Department. In fact, SOS Rhino provides regular progress reports to the Sabah Wildlife Department and Forestry Department.

Later on 27th Sept I was back in Dagat to pay salary and overtime to the field staffs. This was also an opportunity for me to make plan for October. Hayro, the team leader is to train all the new recruits on GPS, compass and map reading, measurement of hoof prints, photographing hoof prints and also English.

SPECIAL REPORTS FROM THE FIELD STAFFS

Source: Suzali Jaya

On 1st September he led a team comprising Bindis, Lusri and Marniah to re-supply ration to Thaya and his team. It took them three days with the heavy load.

Suzali and his team saw hoof prints of elephant, sambar deer and Tembadau (wild cattle) along the way. They saw a group of gibbon, a palm civet, a wild pig and a group of red leaf monkey.

The team assisted Thaya with his sample collection. These samples were brought back to Dagat for safekeeping. On 5th September, Frederic took over from Suzali as the leader on their return to Dagat. Frederic’s team only saw a mouse deer along the way.

Source: Sarinus Aniong

He was with me at Yam brothers base camp and continued to survey the area after I have returned to Kota Kinabalu. As mentioned, the density of wild animals here in the northeastern part of the reserve is low. Of interest is the high density of orangutan nest and the presence of old hoof prints belonging to elephants and Tembadau. Sarinus and Amit went to look for the spring water, and with the assistance of two estate workers they found it. As they proceeded, they also came across many orangutan nests. In fact they saw a mother with an infant. Sarinus’s team also found rhino hoof prints, the same area where Thaya and his team saw some rhino prints.

Sarinus led another survey along the Dagat river on 15th September. They encountered some villagers who were out collecting for rattans. Dagat village is at the fringe of the Tabin reserve. The villagers informed them about the rhino hoof prints they saw and was confirmed positive by Sarinus and his team. After taking the measurements, they failed to find any fresh dung. The mean hoof measurement was 20.13cm diameter. The team also saw a group of red leaf monkeys and a small snake.

Source: France Bianus

France is the full-time assistant to Dr. Thaya. France was assigned to Thaya because of his jungle skill. On 16th August they went and that took them 4 days to reach. France reported finding fresh rhino hoof prints and tons of measurement. All the measurements will be fed to the computer for statistical analysis to show the significance. Dung was also found and collected. Thaya was extremely happy as he was able to track and collect browses eaten by the rhino. In the month of September France and his team found human encroachment in. Using the satellite phone, France briefed me on the matter and I was able to pass the information on quickly to the wildlife department.




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