Publication updates 23 & 24: New Malaysian land snail genus and species named after the late Dr. Tony Whitten

In honour of the late Dr. Tony Whitten, the Raffles Bulletin of Zoology has just published a special Memorial Issue showcasing articles celebrating Tony’s career and new species or genera named after him. Project Limestone researchers named one new genus and one new species after him.

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Tony was an avid supporter of Rimba’s Project Limestone. Up to his last day, Tony was still trying his best to bring scientists like us and the cement industry closer together to explore how limestone biodiversity can be better protected (see Tony in action in this video: min 27:37 onwards). Continue reading

Special update: Good news from the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor

Hello all,

This playful dusky leaf langur (Trachypithecus obscurus), which was caught on a camera trap in the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor last week, was all smiles probably because it knew of some good news coming our way. WHAT IS IT??

The first piece of good news is that the Terengganu state government has decided to freeze development along the Kuala Berang highway bisecting the proposed Kenyir Wildlife Corridor, pending recommendations from environmental consultants working for the federal government. These recommendations are to be submitted by the end of the year.

This decision was reached after we shared our research findings in Kenyir with Dato’ Toh Chin Yaw, Terengganu Chairman of Industry, Trade and Environment Committee, Terengganu State Government. Many thanks to Dato’ Toh for sharing the pictures and videos of Kenyir’s biodiversity with other government officials. Yesterday, this piece of great news was covered by a local news portal, fz.com.

The second piece of good news is that we finally got a  camera-trap picture of the elusive seladang or gaur (Bos gaurus) after 2 years of field work in the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor! We only recorded a single individual, which was detected by two separate cameras.

Although we still have a lot to do to secure protection for the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor, we are working closely with the state government to implement our recommendations. For now, we would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the wonderful people who have supported the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor project. Special thanks also go to Anuar McAfee for helping and working with us on this (Anuar also helped us get the flying foxes protected). Stay tuned for more updates!

* Update 8 November 2012: More extensive coverage, from the very excellent Mongabay: click here!

Photo update 9: Just how important is the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor?

Between 1999 and 2001, Dr Kae Kawanishi recorded 40  mammal species (including humans) on camera traps during her surveys  in Peninsular Malaysia’s largest protected area in Taman Negara.

It’s now 2012. So far, researchers in Rimba have recorded at least 38 mammal species on camera traps in the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor (~170 sq km), which is around 4% of Taman Negara’s size!  Of the total species count (from camera traps, sightings and tracks), 6 are ‘endangered’ and 9 are ‘vulnerable’ according to the IUCN Red List.

The selectively logged forests within this corridor are vital habitats for Malaysia’s threatened mammals. However, many of them, such as Rimba’s mascot below, face an uncertain future in Kenyir.

Habitat loss (for dam construction and eco-tourism infrastructure) and poaching currently threaten the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor.  This is the only area in Terengganu  where mammals and other wildlife can still cross from Taman Negara towards the forests in Hulu Terengganu. We hope the Terengganu State Government will spare important areas of the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor from further development, and gazette it as Malaysia’s first official Wildlife Corridor!

We now have the latest list of mammal species in Kenyir, as well as recent camera trap photos that depict the five endangered species, their threats, and the signs of hope for Kenyir. Continue reading