Malaysia: Riparian forests crucial for crocodiles' survival

Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 26 Oct 17;

KINABATANGAN: Large overhanging trees play a pivotal role in the nocturnal hunting of macaques by estuarine crocodiles.

Published in the journal PLoS (Public Library of Science)
ONE, a new study suggests the riparian forests are crucial for the survival of estuarine crocodiles.

The study was carried out by Luke Evans, who is a post doctoral researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science, with Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) here.

According to the research, crocodile resting locations are influenced by the sight of large trees, which are found to attract macaques to rest at night.

Evans said crocodile-hunting usually consists of a “sit and wait” strategy.

“This, combined with the rather boisterous sleeping arrangements of long-tailed macaques, means crocodiles are ideally placed when individuals fall in the river,” he said in a statement.

Evans used a combination of global positioning system telemetry data and airborne laser imaging of riparian zones collected by the Carnegie Airborne Observatory.

Greg Asner of the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, in a statement, said the high-resolution imagery enabled visualisation of fine scale habitat use.

“By examining vegetation structure, we were able to establish that both macaques and crocodiles prefer large, overhanging trees.

“Large crocodiles only need to eat infrequently, so these long-term strategies have the potential to be highly productive,” he said.

Meanwhile, DGFC director Benoit Goossens said the study was another tool to retain and restore riparian connectivity throughout the lowlands of eastern Sabah.

“Moreover, the maintenance of primate prey sources has the potential of mitigating human-crocodile conflict, particularly in areas such as the Kinabatangan,” he said.