Borneo rainforests, destruction and conservation


This video from Indonesia is called Protecting a Forest — and a Way of Life: Watching over Wehea.

From Wildlife Extra:

As Borneo deforestation reaches critical level a new protection area is established

According to data published by the Indonesian Forestry Agency, the deforestation in Borneo that occurred between 2000 and 2005 topped 1.23 million hectares, reports ProFauna, the Indonesian organisation for the protection of wild animals and their habitats.

This means that every day around 673 hectares of forest disappeared during that period.

Land conversion into palm oil plantation, timber concessions, industrial plants and mining activities are among the major triggers of the loss.

Despite the threats, there are moves afoot to halt the decline in East Borneo, 450km away from the provincial capital of Samarinda.

The Wehea Protection Forest encompasses an area of 38.000 hectares, 250m above sea level on the eastern part and up to 1750m above sea level on the western part, which means the vegetation varies from lowland forest to montane forest and supports 19 mammals species, 114 birds species, 12 rodents species, 9 primates species, and 59 invaluable types of plants.

One of the most valuable aspects of this forest is its importance to the lives of Bornean orangutans. In 2012, the head of the local environment agency, Didi Suryadi, stated that there were approximately 750 individual orangutans whose lives depend on the sustainability of Wehea forest.

Wehea Protection Forest was established in 2005. The governing board consists of government agencies, indigenous people, educational institutions, and NGOs.

Local people have also formed a ranger team, the members of which are young men of the Dayah Wehea tribe who take turns every day to secure the forest.

Recently, a team from ProFauna visited the Wehea people to establish ties to help with the conservation work.

The secretary of the village, Siang Geah, said: “We are very glad to have ProFauna in Wehea and hope that we can establish a positive partnership in protecting our dwindling forests.”

Conservation of orang-utans in Malaysia


This video says about itself:

8 May 2014

Whitley Award for Conservation in Ape Habitats, donated by the Arcus Foundation, Melvin Gumal – Protecting Borneo‘s iconic great apes: Conservation of orang-utans in Sarawak, Malaysia.

See also here.

New spider species discovery in Malaysian Borneo


This video is called Giant spider in Kuching, Sarawak, Borneo, Malaysia at the Cultural Village.

However, there are also much smaller spiders in Malaysian Borneo.

From Naturalis Biodiversity Center in the Netherlands:

Students on field course bag new spider species

Posted on 07-03-2014 by Menno Schilthuizen

Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Danau Girang Field Centre, Sabah Wildlife Department, Pensoft Publishers

As a spin-off (pun intended) of their Tropical Biodiversity course in Malaysian Borneo, a team of biology students discover a new spider species, build a makeshift taxonomy lab, write a joint publication and send it off to a major taxonomic journal.

Discovering a new spider species was not what she had anticipated when she signed up for her field course in Tropical Biodiversity, says Elisa Panjang, a Malaysian master’s student from Universiti Malaysia Sabah. She is one of twenty students following the course, organised by Naturalis Biodiversity Center in The Netherlands, and held in the Danau Girang Field Centre in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. The aim of the one-month course, say organisers Vincent Merckx and Menno Schilthuizen, is to teach the students about how the rich tapestry of the tropical lowland rainforest’s ecosystem is woven.

Besides charismatic species, such as the orang-utans that the students encounter every day in the forest, the tropical ecosystem consists of scores of unseen organisms, and the course focus is on these “small things that run the world”—such as the tiny orb-weaving spiders of the tongue-twistingly named family Symphytognathidae. These one-millimetre-long spiders build tiny webs that they suspend between dead leaves on the forest floor. “When we started putting our noses to the ground we saw them everywhere,” says Danish student Jennie Burmester enthusiastically. What they weren’t prepared for was that the webs turned out to be the work of an unknown species, as spider specialist Jeremy Miller, an instructor on the course, quickly confirmed.

The students then decided to make the official naming and description of the species a course project. They rigged the field centre’s microscopes with smartphones to produce images of the tiny spider’s even tinier genitals (using cooking oil from the station’s kitchen to make them more translucent), dusted the spider’s webs with puffs of corn flour (also from the kitchen) to make them stand out and described the way they were built. They also put a spider in alcohol as “holotype”, the obligatory reference specimen for the naming of any new species—which is to be stored in the collection of Universiti Malaysia Sabah. Finally, a dinner-time discussion yielded a name for this latest addition to the tree of life: Crassignatha danaugirangensis, after the field centre’s idyllic setting at the Danau Girang oxbow lake.

All data and images were then compiled into a scientific paper, which, via the station’s satellite link, was submitted to the Biodiversity Data Journal, a leading online journal for quick dissemination of new biodiversity data, which is currently considering it for publication. Even though thousands of similarly-sized spider species still await discovery, Miller thinks the publication is an important one. “It means we provide a quick anchor point for further work on this species; the naming of a species is the only way to make sure we’re all singing from the same score,” he says.

Field station director Benoît Goossens adds: “This tiny new spider is a nice counterpoint to the large-mammal work we’re doing and having it named after the field centre is extremely cool”. The Danau Girang Field Centre is located in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, a strip of rainforest along Sabah’s major river, squeezed in by vast oil palm plantations on either side. Despite intensive search, the students could not find the new spider in the plantations.

The notion of spiders using ants as bodyguards seems a bit contradictory, but that is exactly what occurs on the tropical forest floors of the Philippines. The jumping spider (Phintella piatensis) strategically nests within the vicinity of the aggressive Asian weaver ant (Ocecophylla smaragdina) as a defense tactic against its main predator, the spitting spider (Scytodes species): here.

Borneo is losing rainforest faster than anywhere else in the world: here.

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Namibian, Indonesian wildlife news


This video from Namibia is called Bwabwata National Park.

From Wildlife Extra:

Two new Ramsar sites

January 2014: Two new Ramsar wetland sites have been designated in January; Bwabwata in Okavango, Namibia, which will be the country’s fifth, and Tanjung Puting National Park in Indonesia, the country’s seventh.

Situated in Bwabwata National Park, the site covers the lower Okavango River, part of the Okavango Delta Panhandle and permanently or temporarily flooded marshes and floodplains bordered by riparian forest and open woodland. It supports IUCN Red-Listed species, including the vulnerable African elephant, hippopotamus, lion, slaty egret and the endangered grey crowned crane. The site supports one of the highest diversities of species in the Zambezian Flooded Savannas ecoregion. Over 400 species of birds have been recorded, the highest number of any site in Namibia.

While Tanjung Puting National Park is one of the most important conservation areas in Central Kalimantan, acting as a water reservoir and representing one of the largest remaining habitats of the endangered Kalimantan Orangutan Pongo pygmaeus. The site consists of seven different types of swamp, including peat swamp forests, lowland tropical rainforest, freshwater swamp forests and as well as mangroves and coastal forest. It supports large numbers of endemic species of flora and fauna adapted to the predominant acidic peat swamp environment.

Sites are recognised by the Ramsar Convention Secretariat as a Wetland of International Importance and that the country’s comitment [sic] to maintain the ecological character of them.

This video from Indonesia is called Orangutan Odysseys Tanjung Puting National Park tour.

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