CONSERVATION AND RESEARCH UNIT
Fuze Ecoteer has been supporting the work of the Malayan Rainforest Station (MRS) since 2013. In September 2018, MRS split its project into two key components – Conservation and Research Unit and Community Development & Empowerment. This enabled MRS to focus on establishing its research credibility, and also allowed for more focused initiatives in local wildlife conservation, raising awareness and introducing capacity building programs. Collaboration is the key to MRS's success, hence they work closely with Universities and local Wildlife agencies.
MRS is focusing their initiatives in Merapoh, which is a small hub town with several neighbouring villages in Lipis district of north Pahang, Malaysia. Little is known about its origins, but the written record suggests that the town was established around 1929, aided by close ties between families who migrated from nearby rural areas and villages, and also due to Islamic faith among locals.
The town is surrounded by a myriad of uniquely formed limestone hills, outcrops/caves with large internal structures and carvings, which makes it a popular attraction for both local and foreign visitors. Besides, these natural structures are also significantly valuable for scientific research and making discoveries; fossilized remains of Early Triassic species was discovered recently at a limestone hill in Merapoh.
- WHO WE ARE
MRS focuses on its initiative to promote conservation & research efforts thorough evidence-based data and active participation by local communities as a hollistic approach.
In the past, MRS focused on conducting regular anti-poaching patrols within the Sungai Yu wildlife corridor. While this is still relevent at present, nevertheless, MRS hopes to conduct its project activities that will complement and build on its existing work, especially in creating more research collaborations with universities and government stakeholders as well as to capacity build local communities to empower them with awareness, knowledge and skills to be the forest guardians.
Photo credit: Dr. Raju Kasambe [CC-BY-SA 4.0:Wikimedia Commons]
THE CLOUDED LEOPARD PROJECT
MRS plans to conduct a long-term ecological and population study on the Mainland Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) in the Merapoh Forest Complex. Although the study species is listed as Vulnerable, little is known about their natural history or ecology, since most studies generally tend to focus on more charismatic and flagship species.
Hence, there is a crucial need for our research at this stage; to understand the ecology and population status of the clouded leopard for the implementation of better conservation strategies and raising awareness in Malaysia. MRS plan to collect data using camera traps, which is a non-intrusive and unbiased method to record animal presence and activity. They will also collect scats for our dietary analysis of the study species.
Checklist and Diversity of Herpetofauna in Merapoh
Currently, there are lack of recorded collections or past studies on the list of amphibian and reptile species found in Merapoh. Hence, MRS plan to conduct surveys to compile a list of all Herpetofauna that can be found in the area. The identification records are compiled for their herpetological collection, and further to conduct research and publications.
Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros Rhinoceros) Project
MRS plan to study and record observational data on the parental behaviour of the Rhinoceros Hornbill in a fragmented forest patch surrounded by agroforested plantations. Their local indigenous guide has kindly assisted them in finding the location of the Rhinoceros Hornbill Nest, and will continue finding more nests to be observed in the future. As Hornbills rarely visit disturbed sites and plantations, this creates an opportunity for the MRS team to study more on the effect of land-use change to Hornbill nesting behaviors. If you are interested to learn more about this species, click here.
Photo credit: Stefan Fussan [CC-BY-SA 3.0:Wikimedia Commons]
MRS conducted regular patrol within the CFS-PL1 area to collect data on encroachment activities and animal signs that utilizes the area. All data will be shared with the respective authorities and MRS plan to explore new routes and areas within the site to cover a bigger scale that is crucial for conservation of CFS-PL1.
Community Conservation Area (CCA)
MRS is aiming to set up a CCA managed by the local community on their initiative. The CCA could be owned or leased to the locals, which can result in better on-site management via local poaching surveillance and patrols. Also, CCA can be used to generate income through ecotourism and trading of forest goods and services.
Currently, MRS is in the process of creating a forest usage map for establishing a CCA. Here, they will be recording the movement of the local indigenous tribe, the Bateq people in the forest, along with mapping different areas with wildflowers and plants that have medicinal value, or research potential. MRS is currently working with Dr Suganthi from University Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) to investigate the usage of wild ginger in traditional medicine used by the Bateq.
COLLABORATION & CAPACITY BUILDING INITIATIVES
MRS values collaboration and partnerships, hence they work with multiple research institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government authorities in terms of promoting their conservation and research efforts. At the end of 2018, MRS hosted undergraduate and postgraduate students from Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) to conduct their research on flying squirrels (Sciuridae) and bats (Chiroptera). Also, the current MRS team comprises of undergraduate students from University Malaysia Terengganu (UMT).
BATEQ CAPACITY BUILDING (BCB)
MRS is in the process of starting its BCB program, where they will train a few members of the Bateq to build field surveying and conservation skills, i.e., species identification, scientific approaches for data collection using GPS and camera traps, and basic data analyses and data implementation. MRS aims to combine both the Malay and the Bateq to conduct joint anti-poaching surveillance and patrols while assessing the methodology for any issues or improvements.
MRS will also explore the Agroforestry initiative – the prospect of producing chocolate products from both upstream sustainable cocoa plantations to downstream chocolate production. The establishment of this initiative could mean the expansion of the project station to provide a healthier and more conducive environment for the project staff and volunteers.
OUR ACHIEVEMENTS IN 2018
We conducted anti-poaching patrols and surveillance.
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