Monday, 30 April 2012

Sanctuary will aid survival of Brunei's diverse bat species

A bat being inspected at the Sg Ingei base camp. Picture: BT/Rasidah HAB
Monday, April 30, 2012
ENSURING Sungai Ingei's forest remains pristine will aid the survival of its bat species.

Associate Professor David JW Lane, a lecturer in the Faculty of Science (Biology) at the Universiti of Brunei Darussalam (UBD), said this following a recent trip into the depths of the 18,000-hectares of Sg Ingei in the interior of Belait District.

The rich diversity of bats found in Sungai (Sg) Ingei is a good indicator of the quality of the pristine forest, where approximately 26 bat species have been found.

Lane was with a team of scientists conducting a two-year faunal diversity study on Sg Ingei's jungle led by UBD in hopes to push the protected forest into a wildlife sanctuary, when they discovered Sg Ingei's rich diversity of bats.

Using his research on bats as an indicator to determine the quality of the forest, David said other indicators may be used as well, such as bird and small mammals.

Although Sg Ingei does not have as many bat species found in Temburong forest, Lane said the species found in Sg Ingei as "much richer than some of the coastal forest areas in Brunei, particularly the horse-shoe bats".

In fact, Sg Ingei is now home to the Rhinolophus Philippinensis bat when Lane discovered it during his first expedition to Sg Ingei in 2010.

The species was a new record for Sg Ingei and the only example found so far in Brunei.

According to Lane, his research on bats helps to show a connectivity between parts of the Heart of Borneo (HoB) forests in different countries when bats fly between the forests.

"It shows a link with the other parts of Heart of Borneo because they are a connected forest, it is contiguous. Meaning the forests are touching and joining up," he said.

He explained that bats adapted and revolutionary designed to fly and search for food in enclosed dense foliage.

"They cannot survive in degraded or heavily logged forest because they cannot survive in open space," he said.

He added that Sg Ingei forests are in "very good condition so the habitat is very good."

As such, Lane remarked it is important for Sg Ingei to be a wildlife sanctuary because ensuring the forest remains pristine secures the survival of the bats.

When asked on his thoughts on the study which is nearing its end later this year, Lane felt there is more to be done.

"I think there is scope to do more because we only really look at certain key groups. There are plenty still, particularly insects like butterfly and spiders," he said.

Lane hopes to achieve further testimonial on the pattern of the richness, uniqueness and quality of the environment of Sg Ingei from his findings.The Brunei Times

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