Malaysia: Danum Valley survey uncovers wildlife treasure trove

Borneo Post 16 Sep 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Yayasan Sabah director Datuk Sapawi Bin Haji Ahmad said the recently concluded Danum Valley Wildlife and Resource Survey marks another meaningful milestone for the Danum Valley Conservation Area (DVCA).

He said a total of 130 flora and fauna researchers comprising relevant personnel from several government departments and agencies, educational institutions and NGOs participated in this survey which was carried out for two weeks beginning August 15, 2016.

“The team of researchers and wildlife ‘surveyors’ returned after spending 12 days starting from searching the pristine forest of Danum Valley and its surrounding to record its inhabitants and beauty as part of the DVCA Wildlife and Resources Survey 2016,” he said.

“Most of the team members were spotted showing numerous signs of sandflies and leaches bites on their faces, arms and legs. From the outcomes of the survey, however, these certainly did not deter them from doing their work,” added Sapawi.

“The survey required the members to set up camera traps at strategic locations within their assigned area of more than 3.5 square km radius, even going as far as 4 to 6 km from their base camp, conduct recce walks day and night to observe nocturnal wildlife and set up mist nets to trap birds, which were released as soon as they were identified and recorded,” he explained.

Trekking involved traversing over rough and unforgiving terrains, such as those in Mt Tribulation and Mt Nocola. These areas have never been explored before.

According to Sapawi, Mt Tribulation, so named because of its rugged and rough terrain in south west of DVCA and Mt Nicola in north of DVCA are two survey locations that have never been explored.

One of the participants, Alim Biun of Sabah Parks, leader of the team assigned to Mt Tribulation was ecstatic being the first person to explore the area.

“The view of the surrounding pristine forest from the top of Mt Tribulation is amazing!” said Alim.

Dr Reuben Nilus of Sabah Forestry Department, and five team members can boast of being the first persons to explore Mt Nicola. They were extremely excited especially with the notable vegetation transition from lowland to heath and finally ultramafic forest ecosystem at Mt Nicola.

Also captured on video was a hair-raising, nail biting rarely seen fight to the death between a Sumatran pit viper and reticulated python.

“It was unreal, unbelievable,” said Eddie Ahmad of HUTAN-KOCP, who was the team leader for Survey Camp 1 located at Kuala Langom, northeast of DVCA.

In the short time during the survey, several iconic and rare wildlife species were spotted, photographed or caught on camera traps. Mammals – Pygmy elephants, Clouded leopard, Orang utan, Sun bear, Flat-headed cat; Birds – Hornbills, Bornean bristlehead, Pittas, Great Argus, Bulwer’s pheasant; some flora species may be new to science and/or new record for DVCA, however these have yet to be ascertained by experts. Several scenic sites were also recorded as potential ecotourism products.

The survey participants were all amazed by the sheer immensity of the trees and the incredible amount of different types of vegetation which are truly an amazing display by Nature. The survey discovered the strongest candidates for new species – Begonia.

Sapawi thanked all survey participants for their assistance and support.

“The survey findings certainly strengthened our efforts to conserve this truly unique rainforest. If we lose the species, we will be losing untold riches,” he said.

The survey, organised by Yayasan Sabah Group was spearheaded by the Sabah Wildlife Department and funded through the Danum Valley Management Committee (DVMC) which is responsible in overseeing the activities at DVCA.

Members of the survey comprised institutions from Yayasan Sabah Group, Sabah Forestry Department, Sabah Wildlife Department, University College Sabah Foundation, Sabah Parks, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, Forest Research Institute Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Sabah Biodiversity Centre, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (Malaysia), Hutan KOCP, WWF-Malaysia, Sabah Environmental Trust, Johor National Parks, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Terengganu, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin, Terengganu, South East Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP), and Institute for Development Studies (Sabah).

DVCA is managed by Yayasan Sabah Group under the aegis of the DVMC which included the Sabah Forestry Department, the Sabah Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and several other State and Federal Government departments/ag


New species found in Danum
STEPHANIE LEE The Star 17 Sep 16;

KOTA KINABALU: A team of researchers carrying out a two-week survey at the never-explored areas of Danum Valley has found some rare and new species of flora and fauna.

The team spotted and photographed or caught on camera traps several iconic and rare wildlife species like the pygmy elephant, clouded leopard, orang utan, sun bear, flat-headed cat, hornbill, Bornean bristlehead, pitta, great Argus, and bulwer’s pheasant.

But the Danum Valley Wildlife and Resource Survey involving several government departments and agencies, educational institutions and non-governmental organisations is still verifying the facts on the potentially new species.

Yayasan Sabah director Datuk Sapawi Ahmad said the survey, which started on Aug 15, covered Mt Tribulation and Mt Nicola located in the southwest and north of the Danum Valley conservation area (DVCA).

“Some flora species such as the Begonia may be new to science or new to the record for the DVCA, but these have yet to be ascertained by experts,” Sapawi said.

Among those exploring these new areas were Alim Biun of Sabah Parks, who was also the leader assigned to Mt Tribulation.

Dr Reuben Nilus of Sabah Forestry Department and five team members were the first to explore Mt Nicola.

They were extremely excited with the notable vegetation transition from lowland to heath and finally ultramafic forest ecosystem at Mt Nicola.

The survey required the members to set up camera traps at strategic locations within their assigned areas of more than 3.5sq km radius, where they conducted reconnaissance walks day and night to observe nocturnal wildlife and set up mist nets to trap birds, which were released as soon as they were identified and recorded.

In thanking the survey participants for their assistance and support, Sapawi said the findings would strengthen efforts to conserve the rainforest.

“If we lose the species, we will be losing untold riches,” he said.

The Danum Valley Field centre is a leading world-renowned field research station in the tropics.

Classified as a Class I (Protection) Forest Reserve by the state government in 1995, DVCA is a playground for wildlife and is one of the few locations in Sabah where visitors are guaranteed of sighting wildlife.

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