Thursday, 5 April 2012

Call to classify Sungai Ingei forest area as sanctuary

File photo of British high commissioner Robb Fenn (L) taking a closer look at a Bornean leaf-nosed bat caught by Dr David Lane (R) of UBD, while Wildlife photographer and videographer Stephen Hogg (C) looks on at the Sungai Ingei basecamp during the second phase of the Sg Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey. Picture: BT file

Thursday, April 5, 2012

THE Sungai Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey team will continue to push for the Sungai Ingei Protected Forest into being classified as a sanctuary as the two-year survey nears its end.

In an interview with The Brunei Times, the survey's leader, Dr Joseph Charles, said the team will leave for Sungai Ingei, which is in a remote part of Belait, from April 6 to 24.

The two-year faunal biodiversity survey, which began in July 2010, is supported by the Ministry of Primary Resources (MIPR) and sponsored by the Standard Chartered Bank (SCB).

The trip will focus on retrieving camera traps, which has been left for over a year, and setting them up in another area to get a better representative of wildlife in the area, said Dr Joseph.

"We have very good data so far and are hoping to get more from the other side. The expedition is going to wind up now, because funding is nearly done," he said.

The team will also continue with their small mammals data collection, centreing on dipterocarp forests, compared to the previous kerangas (heath) and mixed swamp forest.

"We are going to do pitfall traps to trap birds in dipterocarp forests. We also hope to sample flying squirrels at night, so we are going to set up mist nets at canopy level. The bat work will continue, and Dr David Lane is going to come and we are getting another research fellow to survey aquatic invertebrates," Dr Charles said.

"We want as much background data of Sungai Ingei as possible, as this will come useful for managing the area and for the Wildlife Unit to continue in future research," he said.

The Wildlife Unit was set up recently by the Forestry Department under MIPR.

"Any future research can only be done after you know what is there. We are still in the first phase of long-term research to answer the question of what is there. Once we get the basic information, will we then build up on other things," he said.

"One of the greatest resources in Brunei other than oil and gas is the forest. A forest without wildlife is a dead forest. MIPR today is really promoting the protection of wildlife and its survival because it helps us. Our water depends on the forests," he said.

The scientists are vying to convince the Brunei government to convert the 18,000 hectares of protected forests in remote Sungai Ingei into a wildlife sanctuary, and for the establishment of a buffer area that can be zoned for ecotourism and other activities.

The ongoing Sungai Ingei Faunal Biodiversity Survey will once again invite VIPs and the media to the remote, virtually-undisturbed forests in the interior of Belait.

The visit is slated to be held from April 13 to 15, with participants such as the Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya BegawanMudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar; British High Commissioner to Brunei, Rob Fenn; and Singaporean High Commissioner, Joseph Kohl; as well as World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Special Adviser to the Heart of Borneo, Dato' Dr Mikaail Kavanagh.

The Brunei Times

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