Wednesday, December 7, 2011

postheadericon Crocker's cloudies rolling in...

Yesterday was a good day – a very good day.  On Monday Gil, Gul and I packed our bags and headed to the village of Ulu Senagang, where the trail up onto the Senagang ridge rises, and where the last of our cameras to be checked awaited us.  The week before produced the first of our clouded leopard photos from Crocker Range, all of a single male clouded leopard, so we were excited to see whether this same animal, or indeed any of his friends, had also used the Senagang ridge.

It had originally taken us four days of camping to put the camera traps out along this ridge, so we thought we could shave some time off and do it in three.  We did it in two (very painful) days, just managing to leave the forest as night fell.  On arrival back at the house we were all exhausted, and so, despite our excitement, we agreed to look through the new photos in the morning.  But perhaps just one camera trap before bed… 

And that’s when the fun began! Camera after camera began to reveal more and more cool animals, including some Hose’s civet, a handful of leopard cat, yet another Malay weasel and even some more Linsang, and….. loads of clouded leopards!  

By 12:00am this morning we had finally finished going through all the photos; we knew we had some new animals, but final identification of the cloudies would have to wait.

Like I say, we knew we had some new animals, but having carefully cropped and compared all the images I was blown away to find that we now have SIX animals – 1 female and five males!!!!!  On one occasion, the female has walked past the camera, followed immediately by a new male, and later by another (perhaps young male).

This is an amazing start, and it bodes well for Crocker Range’s clouded leopard population.  If the photos keep coming in at this rate, I think we can do some useful science.  Stay tuned.

Caption: top to bottom, Male 1, Female 1, Male 2, Male 3, Male 4, Male 5. As you can see, camera trap images are not always pretty... but these are more than adequate to idenitify the animal to an individual. The shots are in black and white as this particulalr camera trap shoots in infrared at night. Although some animals can see this light quite clearly, it doesn't seem to bother most of them.