Everyone arrived safely at base on Sunday. After a couple of days of training, we’ve had our first field surveys, all successful and good fun. We’ve had sunshine, evidence of animals, torrential rain, amazing swims in the river and much more. Everyone is well and enjoying their time. A sample survey result is below. More in 10 days or so, or earlier, if I can get a message through 😉
CELL AND SURVEY SUMMARY
AB130 (village cell)
Surveyors: Giovanni, Irfan, John, Steve, Matthias
Survey date: 19 July 2016
This cell is east of the village of Tanjung Belit with some parts of the village extending into the western edge of the cell. The border of the Rimbang Baling Wildlife Sanctuary runs through the cell and the sanctuary starts just east of the village. There are good rubber plantation paths that lead into and across the cell, which is not overly hilly. There was also a relatively wide river with good sand or rubble banks to walk on.
Survey description and access:
Our survey was for about 3.5 km, along rubber paths and the river, which took us about 3 hours to cover. This was an easy cell to survey with flat ground and good paths or rivers to walk along. Access to the cell is simply via Tanjung Belit and then walking into the direction of the cell along a concreted path until the cell starts and then onwards on rubber paths and along the river.
There where rubber plantations everywhere we went and some evidence of logging, such as stumps of large trees and an abandoned logger’s camp. We also heard some chainsaw noise. Once the concreted village path ended, so did the litter and humans, and we only encountered one rubber worker, as well as a couple collecting tree bark for drying and selling onto a factory to produce insect repellent.
Evidence of wild pigs is common, particularly rootings. We discovered one mineral lick in the cell with evidence of good use, which we set a camera trap at. We also encountered a local breed of cattle, the sepi cow, which was domesticated in Java from a forest bovine only 50 or so years ago, according to Febri. These roam freely in the forest and are periodically claimed by their owners. We encountered two of them, about 2 km as the crow flies from the village, wearing bells and running from us as soon as they became aware of our presence. Other than widespread evidence of wild boar and the sepi cows, we saw water buffalo, macaques, goats and chicken, the latter three all close to or in the village.
Human/tiger dimension (interviews):
The above suggests that the villagers do not fear tiger attacks in this cell. This was corroborated by an older man we met when walking into the cell. He did not want to do a formal interview, but he told us that when he was a child, villagers used to send tiger hunting parties into the forest once a week. He never saw a tiger himself and we estimated him to be around 60, so the tiger hunting parties would have happened in the 1960s.