Thursday, April 5, 2012

postheadericon Volunteers needed in the Danum Valley!

We are now offering volunteer placements for individuals to help us conduct a clouded leopard camera trap survey of the Danum Valley Conservation Area. If you fancy experiencing the ‘real’ Bornean rainforest, learning new skills and helping us learn about the elusive Sunda clouded leopard, then read on...

Sunrise over the Danum Valley - one of Sabah's last remaining primary rainforests - and one of the last remaining places
 on Earth where Sumatran rhino, elephant, clouded leopard and orang utan live side by side.

Return to Danum....

Our camera survey of Crocker Range is now complete and the data will shortly be analysed - more on this soon. Meanwhile our team have now moved onto perhaps the jewel in Sabah's crown: the Danum Valley Conversation Area

Back in 2007 Danum was host to the first ever attempt at a camera trap based assessment of clouded leopard density. Ultimately though, we never reached our goal, due primarily to a lack camera trap, sub-standard camera equipment, and a lack of expertise.  I'm pleased to say that thanks to our sponsors the camera traps are no longer a problem - and with six surveys under our belt since our last visit here I think it's fair to say we now have the expertise.

A rarely photographed clouded leopard cub, one of three animals previously recorded in Danum Valley.


Our work is focused on providing basic, yet scientifically sound information regarding the Sunda clouded leopard and other threatened felids in Sabah to help guide viable conservation strategies for these species. As such, one of the core questions that we are attempting to answer is:

What is the distribution and conservation status of Sunda clouded leopards and other felids throughout Sabah, and what factors affect their presence and abundance? 

To help address this question we have developed a research approach primarily constructed around multiple 6-month camera trap surveys designed to estimate clouded leopard densities and felid community structure in areas of forest exposed to different forest management strategies.  Few data exist regarding Bornean felid communities, with your efforts, we can ensure that we gain the best possible information we can.


We are looking for volunteers to start as early as the beginning of May 2012, but positions will be available throughout the survey – ending in September 2012.  You must be available to work on the project for a minimum of 1 month, although we will consider taking on candidates for shorter periods if they already have sufficient experience. Get in touch if you are interested and we’ll take it from there.


The Danum Valley Field Centre
The Danum Valley Conservation Area http://www.searrp.org/danum-valley is located deep within Sabah, Malaysian Borneo (4º50′N – 5º00′N and 117º35′E – 117º45′E). The Danum Valley Field Centre is approximately 70 km inland from the town of Lahad Datu on Sabah’s east coast.

Covering 43,800 hectares (438 km2), the Danum Valley Conservation Area is one of the largest, most important and best-protected expanses of pristine lowland forest remaining in SE Asia.

Danum Valley, and several other large primary forest protected areas including the Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon Conservation Areas, are embedded within an exceptionally large (>10,000 km2) forest concession operated by Yayasan Sabah (the Sabah Foundation). The bulk of the of the Yayasan Sabah area is under a regime of natural forest management, but also includes extensive timber and oil palm plantations, community forestry programmes, eco-tourism sites and two of the region’s largest forest rehabilitation projects. 


Volunteers will assist with all aspects of the project (see earlier posts on the blog for an idea of what we get up to), including, but not restricted to: mapping and creation of forest trails and incorporation of spatial data into a GIS, deploying and checking camera traps over an approximate area of 150km2 of forest, and photographic data management. 


We are ideally looking for candidates with (or currently undertaking) at least a first degree in an appropriate Natural Science, although this is by no means a prerequisite and we will happily consider keen individuals with a demonstrated interested in wildlife conservation.  Above all else candidates should have an extremely high level of fitness and a willingness to work in a challenging environment.  The work will involve very long and arduous hikes over difficult terrain, and will frequently necessitate camping for up to 10 nights at a time at remote locations. Volunteers must be able to carry 50+ litre rucksacks weighing between 15-20 kg. The ideal candidates will have some experience of the activities described above, although this is not essential as full training will be provided.  

This is an extremely rewarding position working in arguably one of the most beautiful forests remaining on Borneo. However, I simply cant overstate just how important it is for volunteers to be physically fit. In the past we have had to turn down candidates simply because they were unable to deal with the conditions.  Please think this through before applying!


Unlike other projects we will not ask for any contribution towards project costs. However,  you must be able to cover both your own transport costs to Danum Valley Field Centre, Sabah, and your subsistence costs (i.e., food and accommodation costs at field sites).  

Further Questions

For further information and to apply please email me