Mammal research in Indonesian Borneo

This video from Malaysia says about itself:

A collection of some of the wonderful smaller mammals found at Mt Kinabalu and Danum Valley in Borneo. The animals (in order) are Giant Squirrel, Plain Pygmy Squirrel, Prevost’s Squirrel, Mountain Treeshrew, and Red Leaf Monkeys (Maroon Langur).


Surprising habitat: camera traps reveal high levels of mammal diversity in oil palm plantations

Julian Moll-Rocek

July 21, 2014

At first the forest seems still, with only the sounds of busy insects and slight movement of wind betraying activity in the patchy undergrowth. Then, curiously, a Malay civet (Viverra tangalunga), an animal resembling half cat and half weasel, scampers out to claim its prize: a stick smeared with margarine and honey. CLICK! Sensing the animal’s body heat, a camera trap strapped to a nearby tree captures an image of this creature’s inquisitive behavior.

After more than four and a half years of camera trap footage, the results are encouraging: 36 mammal species, of which more than half are legally protected, are prospering in this most surprising of spots: an oil palm plantation in the province of East Kalimantan in Indonesian Borneo.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Indonesian Natural History, co-authors Deni Wahyudi and Rob Stuebing used camera traps to inventory mammal populations throughout the oil palm plantations and designated conservation reserves set aside by the palm oil company PT REA Kaltim. The study took place throughout REA Kaltim’s 30,000-hectare oil palm plantation, of which 18 percent, or over 5,000 hectares, have been kept as conservation reserves comprised of forests along rivers, peatlands, and hills. Among the mammals recorded were several small populations of orangutans (Pongo pygmaeus, listed as Endangered by the IUCN), sun bears (Helarctos malayanus, listed as Vulnerable) and flat headed cats (Prionailurus planiceps, listed as Threatened). These results suggest that important levels of biodiversity can be maintained within human modified landscapes if appropriate measures are taken to conserve key areas of habitat.

A publicly listed company from the U.K. and traded on the main market of the London Stock Exchange, REA acquired its first oil palm concession, PT. REA Kaltim Plantations, in East Kalimantan, Indonesia, in the early 1990s. The group has since expanded to other districts and now holds title to six oil palm concessions in East Kalimantan and three mills, two of which have methane capture facilities.

Palm oil is used as an ingredient in everything from donuts to shampoo, and has been hugely criticized for spurring massive deforestation throughout the tropics. Replacing huge tracts of rainforest with monoculture plantations of this African palm (Elaeis guineensis) has had many negative impacts on biodiversity, indigenous cultures, and the global climate. In Indonesia, the world’s top palm oil producer, expanding oil palm plantations have led to abuses of indigenous land rights and conversion of peat lands, which has released huge amounts of methane into the atmosphere.

Stuebing is quick to condemn development practices, in forests are felled and wildlife killed to make room for oil palm plantations.

“Numerous companies have entered Indonesia since PT. REA Kaltim established its first oil palm plantation in East Kalimantan in the early 1990s,” he said. “Most showed a less than stellar environmental ethic. Some were involved in killing orangutans and basically scorched the earth [due to] land clearing practices. In other words, old habits and traditions are in dire need of reform.”

4 thoughts on “Mammal research in Indonesian Borneo

  1. Pingback: Borneo rainforests, destruction and conservation | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Yellow-bellied weasel camera trap discovery in Cambodia | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Borneo orangutans saved by wildlife corridors? | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  4. Pingback: Young orangutan saved from corporate wildfire in Indonesia | Dear Kitty. Some blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.