Wednesday, June 11, 2008

postheadericon Project Update June '08

Camera trapping
Throughout June the cameras from the Conservation Area have been brought in, assessed for damage, and repaired where possible; a few cameras remain in the Conservation Area to be brought in at a later date. The new survey area is the old Malua Forest Reserve, now part of the new Ulu Segama-Malua Forest Reserve in which a sustainable forest management scheme is being run. Logging ceased in this area in December 2007 with logs being removed until April 2008. This area of forest has a low, relatively open canopy and is much more disturbed than the Infapro area where the first density survey was conducted. Before positions for the cameras are chosen the area will be mapped with the GPS to ensure there is an adequate road network and trails, skids and roads will be carefully chosen to guarantee the optimum camera layout.

Live trapping
Live trapping ceased on June 10th as our volunteer vet had to return to the UK. However, before this date we were successful in trapping a further two male leopard cats, male 3 on June 4th and male 4 on June 6th. Both cats were healthy adults and free from trap injuries. Both immobilisations went very well, with smooth recoveries and both cats were fitted with radio collars. The live traps are now all closed and have been brought in from the field. They will be repaired or replaced where necessary and stored ready for the next phase of live-trapping in September/October.

Radio tracking
Radio tracking the leopard cats is going well. Male 3 has moved several kilometres from his trap site to the field centre and most of the locations we have for him are around the buildings here. As female 1 seems to stay away from the larger roads she is more challenging to keep track of, but we are managing to obtain locations for her. We have the most locations for male 1 and his home range so far is about 3 km2, which is comparable with the findings from the only other leopard cat study on Borneo: Rajaratnam’s study at Tabin Wildlife Reserve. There is also some overlap between the home ranges of male 1 and male 2. Unfortunately we are still unable to relocate Ally. We are making plans to use a helicopter for a one hour aerial search of the forest.

Our volunteer vet Rosalie has now left the project and returned to the UK, we wish her the best of luck in finding a new job there. Todd, who will volunteer with us for the next few months has recently joined us and is a welcome new member of the team. We will, however, need to have a new vet on the team for the next phase of live trapping.