Publication update 7: What is wilderness?

Ever wondered what people mean when they use the word ‘wilderness’?

Selectively logged forest in Terengganu

To most people, the concept of wilderness generally means pristine, untouched nature, free from the destructive taint of humankind. Would you agree? Many early conservationists subscribed to this idea of wild areas that had been spared the human touch, and therefore their efforts were largely aimed at restoring nature to this perceived original state of being untainted and unchanged (e.g. see Sheil and Meijaard, 2010).

However, the truth is, over the many thousands of years that humans have occupied this planet, there are very few habitats that have not actually been influenced by us in some way or another. Continue reading

Photo update 4: What’s in the forest and what’s under the bridge?

Here’s a long overdue photo update on the species of mammals photographed by our Reconyx camera traps in the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor Project.

While other camera traps used by our friends in WWF-Malaysia have flash that captures award-winning photos of wildlife and allow you to identify animal individuals to get density estimates, covert cameras such as ours may decrease the likelihood of your camera being destroyed by irritable elephants or encroachers who want souvenirs – it all depends on the objective of your study. In this project, we are mainly interested to know the species present in the forests and the species utilising viaducts over fixed time periods.

Fortunately, these camera traps are password-protected and have built-in cameras that would be of no use to a thief. Our cameras have been out for 3 months in the forests and we are happy to report the cameras retrieved so far were healthy and dry. Here are photos of several interesting species recorded from the forests and beneath the viaducts. Enjoy!

Interesting mammals recorded in forests

Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) © Rimba – Acik, Dahar, Paul, Reuben and William

For the rest of the photos… Continue reading

Publication update 6: New species await in that jungle yonder

The next time you find yourself near a vast forest far from human settlements with minimal infrastructure in Malaysia, get your camping gear out and spend a few nights in the forests with a group of nature lovers. If you’re lucky, have sharp eyes and walk far enough, you may just find an amphibian or mammal species yet to be discovered by scientists. And if you are really dying to name more new amphibian or mammal species after that special someone, head into the Amazon or Central Africa to improve your chances!

Potentially new species await in relatively undisturbed forests such as Royal Belum State Park, Perak, Peninsular Malaysia.. © Reuben Clements

A new study by Giam, one of Rimba’s researchers, found that tropical moist forests of the Neotropics, Afrotropics, and Indomalaya (this includes Malaysia!) are likely harbour the greatest numbers of undescribed species. This paper was recently published in the prestigious international journal, Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Giam and his colleagues devised a mathematical model of Continue reading