For phase two Alpha 3 moved from Coupe 12 to Coupe 8. This 1000-hectare area is home to a vast range of wildlife including Civets, Slow Loris and Borneo’s famous Sun Bears; not to mention the plethora of plants and insects that make this majestic forest their home. The Raleigh venturers have the spent the last few weeks assessing the ‘high conservation value’ (HCV) of Coupe 8 by aiding the Asian Forestry Company Sabah (AFCS) team in their research. This involves setting up and monitoring mist nets, collecting valuable flora data, planting camera traps to catch a glimpse of Sabah’s more elusive creatures as well as going out ‘frogging’ in the evenings to discover the area’s amphibious residents.
One of the main issues facing Sabah’s rainforest as well as Borneo in general is forest fragmentation – essentially the breakup of jungle areas by roads, man-made waterways and other human activity. This has contributed to the decline in number of species over the last few decades, including clouded leopards and the universally adored orangutan.
The consensus is that something needs to be done to reduce the impact of forest fragmentation, hence conservations efforts like these run by AFCS.
How is our volunteering helping?
By assessing the HCV of Coupe 8 (as well as the other Coupes Raleigh is working on), we are helping determine whether the area is too important to divide for commercial purposes. It has been exciting and fascinating all of us, and for most it is our first taste of conservation work. Every two hours, a small team of Raleigh volunteers venture into the jungle to check the mist nests to see if any birds have been captured; at time of writing, species have included the majestic Blue Banded Kingfisher, an enormous Striated Heron as well as a wide collection of Babblers and Spiders Hunters.
From the mammal traps we set up, the AFCS team found their very first porcupine, and on the camera traps we saw Barking Deer, Wild Boar, Civets and a couple of Long Tail Macaques. Finally, through evening frogging, jumping around in the rivers wearing latex gloves paid off. We found over 25 specimens covering at least ten species.
From the three weeks of research carried out, hopefully we will have helped provide enough evidence that the Coupe 8 area is worth saving. The team learned a lot over the phase about conversation techniques and the range of species inhabiting Sabah. They also have learned a lot about themselves, developing leadership and inter-personal skills (as well as how to balance on slippery rocks!)
Words by James Fowler, photos by Larysa