Wednesday, May 14, 2008

postheadericon Project Update May 2008

Camera trapping
After running 16 pairs of cameras in the Conservation Area for the last few months it has become apparent that the capture probability for clouded leopards in this forest type is too low to analyse the data in a capture-mark-recapture framework. This is not to say that there are fewer clouded leopards in the primary forest, simply that it is much more difficult to identify the areas through which clouded leopards will move and so it is more challenging to place the cameras in areas that will result in high numbers of photo-captures. Therefore we plan to move the cameras from the Conservation Area and onto the next phase – a mark-recapture study in very recently logged forest.

Live trapping
Throughout May 20 small live traps baited with live rats, electronic sound lures or a combination of the two were deployed in the logged forest of the INFAPRO area. The first leopard cat, a healthy male, was trapped on 12th May and this was followed by 2 females on the 21st May and a second male on the 26th May. All leopard cats were healthy and free from trap injuries. All immobilisations went very smoothly and all animals were fitted with radio collars. In addition to the success of the leopard cats several Malay civets have been trapped, a monitor lizard, a common porcupine, a binturong and a mouse deer. All non-target animals have been free from trap injuries and quickly released at the trap site.

Radio tracking
We are still unable to obtain a signal for Ally despite trying all the usual places and also some new areas. Tracking of the leopard cats has proved successful to date, despite being unable to re-locate female 2 so far. Although data are few to date, it appears that the males often use the roads and have day-time rest sites at the edge of the forest close to the road. The female seems to use forest areas and very overgrown old roads preferentially to the more open roads.

As always, project activities are hindered by only having one vehicle available to us. Checking the live traps has to be the first priority for the day, however, as this takes the use of the car the radio tracking of all animals is impeded and becomes biased towards the afternoon locations and activity of the collared animals. We are still investigating the feasibility of using motorbikes or a quad bike for checking traps and radio tracking.