Thursday, 25 August 2011

Study of Sg Ingei wildlife in videos

(Top) One of about 60 camera traps placed along suspected animal game trails and feeding grounds along the "furthest" of four trails scientists are using to study wildlife in Sg Ingei during a VIP visit of the UBD-led faunal biodiversity survey to Sg Ingei from March 25-27, 2011. (Above) Wildlife photographer and videographer, Hogg (R) in discussion at the Sg Ingei basecamp with members of the WWF Heart of Brunei project. Picture: BT file

Thursday, August 11, 2011

SEVERAL videos of the on-going study of wildlife in the remote forests of Sungai Ingei are anticipated to be produced by a professional photographer-cum-videographer whom the Universiti Brunei Darussalam-led scientific team invited to join the two-year expedition.

With about 40 years' experience documenting wildlife in the likes of Malaysia and Australia, Stephen Hogg of Kuala Lumpur-based Wildtrack Photography said that he has already managed to capture a number of animals that was "new to him".

The wildlife enthusiast told The Brunei Times that he has found at least two new tarantula spiders and "a variety of different bugs that I have never seen in my life before".

"The forests seems to be extremely rich," he said, adding that the loudness of the forests were an indication of its richness. "It's pretty blaring."

Speaking during an interview at the Sungai Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey basecamp, located some seven hours upriver from Bukit Sawat jetty, Hogg said that the diversity of the protected forests was evident also in the range of bird sounds heard there.

"Birds very rarely sing. Here you hear the song(s) of many different species," he said.

A freelance photographer who has been taking wildlife shots since his teenage years and has worked with the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) in the UK, Hogg has already produced at least one video for the expedition.

The video was shown to the VIP guests, which included the minister of Industry and Primary Resources, the British High Commissioner to Brunei and World Wildlife Fund for Nature officials, during a weekend excursion to Ingei last month.

The videos created by Hogg, who stayed with the scientists in Ingei from July 2-23 and also took part during the survey's first phase last year, were also planned to be used for future public education programmes.

"Our ideas are: we want to produce a general video, and short videos on specific techniques (to study fauna) hoped to be distributed and used in schools," Project Leader Dr Joseph Charles of UBD was quoted in a previous report.

Hogg was also supplying and assisting the scientific team in the use of camera traps, one of the technological tools they are using to remotely document the wildlife in Ingei.

The scientists has set up about 60 camera traps, which each have a "standard" compact camera fitted inside a Pelican case and was triggered by an electronic circuit board that emits a passive infra-red beam, in areas within the forest where animals were believed to frequent.

"It's a very sensitive beam, it can detect heat and motion at night beyond 20-25 metres. It's a long way down the (animal) trail."

"Anything that moves that's a mammal or a bird that's warm-blooded, crosses the path where the beam is pointing, although they can't see the beam, and that will trigger the camera to power up and take the picture," he explained.

Hogg has facilitated a number of "intensive training exercises" to advise the scientists on things to look out for when setting up the camera traps such as positioning the camouflage-painted devices to avoid glare from the sun, "reading" the wildlife trails and recognising certain fast-growing vegetation which can block the cameras as they were left there for several months at a time.

"Something it seems that they've never done (is) taking a look at the results that they get from the camera traps from the first time setting, and re-evaluating those results, and then changing positions of cameras," he said.

"For example, when they set the cameras, they are not taking into consideration where sun rise and sun set is."

However, despite the amateur attempts, Hogg said there were "some really awesome pictures" taken by the team.

The study, which concludes in 2012, is hoped to provide evidence for authorities to convert the 18,000-hectare Sg Ingei Protection Forests into a wildlife sanctuary.

The Brunei Times

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