Saturday, 30 October 2010

Trees Are Everywhere! (Day 5 - 06/07/2010)

It's the same activities for Day 5 as every research participant set out to the field to conduct their relevant projects. The day was hot and sunny and the river level was quite low. Just a great weather for drying our damp and smelly clothes! :)

Dr. Ulmar and Rosli went to the Batu Melintang waterfall area and had decided to camp for a few nights at the Hot Springs. As mentioned in Day 4, they were surveying for frogs and could only work at night. They were also escorted by the forest police.

Dr. Zohrah and her assistant Amalul continued their research despite the low water level. Dr. Lane and his assistants, Zaedi and Mayyer, seemed to love their work as they checked their harp traps for a few times within that day. Dr. Yustian and Andrios rested during the day time and went out to search for their tarsiers at night. Both would only come back during the wee hours of the night!

As for Dr. Charles' teams of small mammal and camera trap people, everything went pretty well. The small mammal team managed to gather some interesting data for the day whereas the camera trap teams ventured far into the forests of Sungai Ingei Forest Reserve in setting up camera traps. Keep in mind that both the camera trap teams of Team Angus and Team Samhan went towards different trails to maximize the camera trapping efficiency.

Here are some pictures taken during Day 5:

Fish Group
L-R: Dr. Zohrah, Amalul and Haji Roslan (paramedic)

Tarsier Group
Andrios and Dr. Yustian

Bat Group
L-R: Zaedi (robin), Mayyer (batgirl) and Dr. Lane (batman)

Camera Trap Group: Team Angus
L-R: Faisal, Jeff, Bon and Angus

Camera Trap Group: Team Samhan
L-R: Ishlah, Metis, Yatty and Arpin

Team Samhan taking a lunch break in the forest

Arpin with his Agathis borneensis friend

Bon setting up a camera trap

Some parts of the camera trap trails
require you to cross streams and rivers via logs

Jeff and Bon operating the camera trap

To be continued...

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Go! Go! Go! (Day 4 - 05/07/2010)

It was a sunny morning in Day 4 and everyone in the base camp woke up really early to prepare themselves for the day. The smell of breakfast filled the main hall and a handful of participants were seen gathering outside the toilet area and brushing their teeth like a group of kindergarten kids. Most of them still had droopy eyes.

Others decided to hang their laundry as the amount of sunlight was plenty. The weather for the past few days and nights had been wet. At the far end of the base camp, our Iban boatmen were seen taking their morning dip in the beautiful river. The water level of Sungai Ingei had become moderately low as the water had subsided.

Day 4 marked the day in which all research participants set out to the field to conduct their relevant projects. Keep in mind that 5 research projects were conducted as led by 5 scientists:

Dr Joseph Charles

The status and distribution of mammals, primates and hornbills in the Sungai Ingei Protection Forest Reserve

  • Small mammal diversity in Sungai Ingei (by cage traps and pitfall trapping)
  • Surveys of endangered cats & larger mammals in Sungai Ingei by camera trapping
  • Primate diversity in Sungai Ingei
  • Hornbill diversity in Sungai Ingei
  • Overall avian diversity in Sungei Ingei

AP. Dr Zohrah Hj Sulaiman

Biodiversity of Freshwater Fishes of Sungai Ingei, Brunei Darussalam

The small mammal group was consisted of BB, Salwa, Catherine and Pei Fen. These girls have been well-trained for this particular project and I must say that it's not as easy as it sounds. This project required them to set cage traps and pitfall traps at strategic areas in the Sungai Ingei Forest Reserve so as to study the small mammal diversity in the area. Traps were checked in the morning, afternoon and late noon for any caught animals. Final results will be discussed during the Sungai Ingei Faunal Expedition seminar in 2011.

The fish group was consisted of Dr. Zohrah (freshwater fish expert) and Amalul. In addition to that, the Iban boatmen were crucial for this project. Dr. Zohrah had actually started her project on Day 2 and thereby had collected some preliminary results. Final results will be discussed during the Sungai Ingei Faunal Expedition seminar in 2011.

Small Mammal and Fish Group
L-R: Hj. Roslan (paramedic), Stephen Hogg (photographer), Dr. Zohrah, Amalul,
Yatty, Salwa, Dr. Charles, Catherine, Pei Fen and Cikgu Haji (boatman)

The camera trap group was divided into two teams namely Team Samhan and Team Angus. Team Samhan is composed of Metis, Ishlah, Moon, Haji Bakhtiar (Iban senior guide) and led by Samhan himself. On the other hand, Team Angus is composed of Jeffery, Bon, Faisal, Arpin and led by Angus himself.

Both teams were led by their respective leaders to set camera traps in various, unexplored places in the Sungai Ingei Forest Reserve. Trails explored by either teams (whereby camera traps were set) can be as far as 6km-10km in length and forest types covered consist of riverine forest, kerangas forest, kerapah forest, peat swamp forest and freshwater swamp forest.

The camera trap teams would leave the base camp in the morning and would normally finish their work by late noon. Therefore, the camera trap project would require very fit people in order to be conducted. Final results will be discussed during the Sungai Ingei Faunal Expedition seminar in 2011.

Camera Trap Group (Both Team Samhan and Team Angus)
L-R: Faisal, jeff, Bon, Moon, Metis, Haji Bakhtiar, Samhan, Ishlah and Arpin

Resting in the deep forest

Crossing rivers via fallen trees is never easy!

Moon taking some time off to pose for the camera

AP. Dr Ulmar Grafe

Survey of Amphibians and Insect Biodiversity in Brunei Darussalam
  • Survey of Amphibians in Brunei Darussalam
  • Survey of Insect Biodiversity in Brunei Darussalam

The amphibian group is mainly composed of Dr. Ulmar and Rosli. Dr. Ulmar is an expert in frogs and he covered wide areas in the Sungai Ingei Forest Reserve in search for frogs and other amphibians. The frog group travelled as far as to Batu Melintang (a waterfall) and climbed a steep hill to reach the Hot Springs area, which is approximately an hour's boat ride from the base camp.

They set up a sub camp there and did their project intensively for a few nights. Note that the frog project was done during the night only. Other areas in which frog surveys were done by Dr. Ulmar and Rosli were in the vicinity of the base camp itself. Frogs caught were kept as specimen for further analysis and any frogs which were caught as duplicates were also released. Final results will be discussed during the Sungai Ingei Faunal Expedition seminar in 2011.

Dr. Ulmar (white) and Rosli (green) all packed and

ready to leave the base camp for a few nights

They took a boat to Batu Melintang (1 hour boat ride)

AP. Dr David Lane

Biodiversity survey of forest-dependant bats and Heteroptera (water bugs) in Sungei Ingei Forest Reserve

  • Studies of Forest-dependent bats and their diversity in dipterocarp forests of the Sungai Ingei Forest Reserve
  • Investigation of Heteroptera (water bug) diversity in the head water streams of the Sungai Belait catchment at Sungai Ingei Forest Reserve

The bat group was led by Dr. Lane and his assistants were Zaedi and Mayyer. This project required the use of harp traps in trapping the bats in the Sungai Ingei Forest Reserve. These harp traps had to be strategically set up and they are heavy to bring around in the forest too.

The harp traps were checked in the morning and late noon to see if any bats had been caught. Bats that were caught were analyzed in the base camp and were either released or kept as specimen. In addition to that, survey of waterbugs in the river was also done by Mayyer. Final results will be discussed during the Sungai Ingei Faunal Expedition seminar in 2011.

Mayyer (white) and Zaedi (blue) checking the harp trap in the base

Dr. Indra Yustian

Survey of Tarsiers (Tarsius bancanus) in Sungai Ingei Forest Reserve

The tarsier group is mainly composed of our Indonesian friends namely Dr. Yustian and his assistant Andrios. Dr. Yustian is an expert in tarsiers and has been working on these elusive mammals for years in the Indonesian forests. His methodolody for catching the tarsiers (Bornean tarsier: Tarsius bancanus) is by using mist nets, which are also used for catching birds.

Tarsiers are so difficult to track and the only feasible way to find them is to sniff their urine traces on the branches and stems of small trees. The mist nets were set up in various places in the Sungai Ingei Forest Reserve and the tarsier people had also set up sub camps near these mist nets. Since tarsiers are nocturnal animals, Dr. Yustian and Andrios only went out to do their work at night. Final results will be discussed during the Sungai Ingei Faunal Expedition seminar in 2011.

Tarsier group with Stephen Hogg
L-R: Dr. Yustian, Stephen and Andrios

To be continued...

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Hello, Friends! (Day 3 - 04/07/2010)

Day 3 came and we were expecting our guests, whom were the second batch of participants of the expedition, to arrive at the base camp. They were scheduled to leave Bukit Sawat Jetty at 10am and another batch of Iban boatmen from Kampong Melilas and Kampong Sukang were sent to pick the participants from the jetty.

Several reporters from the local press (Borneo Bulletin, Brunei Times, etc) were also present at Bukit Sawat Jetty to cover the news of the departure of the second batch of participants to Sungai Ingei.

Dr. Joseph Charles, our expedition leader, was there to entertain the reporters while the other participants helped the boatmen to load the luggage onto the boats. Click here if you want to read Brunei Times' online news cover of the departure.

Second batch of participants who left for Sungai Ingei on Day 3:

Dr. Joseph Charles (expedition leader), Dr. Ulmar Grafe (senior lecturer), Dr. David Lane (senior lecturer), Dr. Indra Yustian (Indonesian scientist), Stephen Hogg (expedition photographer), Andrios (Indonesian research assistant), Zaedi (Forestry Department officer), Hajah Yatty (Brunei Museums vice-curator), Arpin (museums staff), Moon (museums staff), Faisal (museums staff), Catherine (research assistant), Bon (research assistant), Pei Fen (research assistant) and Mayyer (research assistant).

Participants ready to board the boats for Sungai Ingei

Reporters interviewing Dr. Joe Charles

Dr. Ulmar (right) posing for the press camera :)

Haji Saifullah (Iban boatmen / Imam)
reciting prayer before departure

Dr. Charles enjoying his lunch. Big smile!

Dr. Lane showing us how to enjoy his lunch the relaxed way

While the second batch of participants headed their way to Sungai Ingei, a few of the the first batch of participants were busy cleaning up the base camp. Some others collected wooden planks in the vicinity of the base camp to make walkways that connect the base camp to the toilets. These activities were followed by brunch as our chefs made sure that everyone was rewarded after a morning's hard work.

Angus, Cikgu Haji and Samhan repairing a mini-bridge

Angus the Muscleman!
p.s. He is in his 60s' by the way

Collecting wooden planks...

...and used the planks as walkways

Brunch menu on the white board...
...and also World Cup results!

Posers with the expedition banner :)

Daily, refreshing dips in the river
brought laughters and joy to everyone

It was close to 2pm when some of the participants at the base camp took their dips in the river. Not long after that, the sound of motorboards were heard from afar and that's when we realized something...the second batch of participants have arrived!

Their journey from Bukit Sawat Jetty to Sungai Ingei base camp took about 3 hours and we could see that the participants were tired and burnt as the weather was quite hot that day. We were glad that everyone arrived safely and immediately, the first batch of participants welcomed their fellow friends and helped them in offloading the luggage and other equipments.

After the luggage were offloaded from the boats, everyone settled down in the base camp. Dr. Joe Charles gave a quick briefing to everyone in the kitchen as everyone helped themselves with refreshments that was prepared by the chefs. In addition to that, air mattresses and mosquito nets were also set up so as to allow the second batch of participants to rest up for the night.

Boat 1 arrived:
Dr. Charles, Dr. Yustian, Dr. Lane, Dr. Ulmar, Stephen and Arpin

Boat 2 arrived:
Andrios, Zaedi, Bon, Mayyer, Catherine and Pei Fen

Boat 3 arrived:
Faisal waving frantically!

It was very chaotic with luggage all over the base camp floor!

Dr. Charles with a big smile after a visit to the toilet :)

Quick briefing as given by Dr. Charles

Samhan (field coordinator) also
gave some welcoming words and led a prayer

I wonder what's so funny? But a happy picture nonetheless

Extra air mattresses and mosquito nets were set up

The second batch of participants brought us newspapers!
The first batch of participants were cut off from the outside world
with no idea of what's going on. The newspapers certainly brought
alot of happy faces :)

Day 3 might be tiring to some but Day 4 was in fact, the real big day for everyone.

To be continued...