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26 July 2011

Living The Dream - Part 3 (Tomorrow Never Dies)

23 days come and go and i finally come back again to civilization. But not just that, more than 200 species of mammals, big and small, flying and not flying, nocturnal and diurnal, i already 'record' them in my head. now i am ready!!!, wait the sec... but ready for what? are we missing something?? After touching down the ground of Bintulu town, i was told by my superior, Mr. Rob Stuebing, there was scientist came from Conservation and Research Center that was interested in collaborating with us by doing camera trap survey. What the heck is camera trap anyway?? I tried to brainstorm but it was useless. I all i knew was that i will be going back to the forest. New technology. New idea. New survey. New people. But as expected, i was not nervous anymore. without any comment, i accept the task. That is really the turning point of my life. Turning point of my career. Peak of my career in other word. When i first met Dr. William J. McShea from Wildlife Conservation Society, USA, he was nice person. Very tall, big and discipline. I am forever grateful to him. He taught me a lot of interesting process, procedure, methodology in trapping, managing and conserving Bornean wildlife. He's the real expert! you can say that if you want to. 
Approximately 15 remote automatic Deercam© cameras were brought from States been used to document any or maybe all species of mammals inhabit gently rolling, Acacia mangium plantation of Bintulu, Sarawak. The DeerCam©  uses a 28mm Olympus Trip 505 camera combined with a built-in infrared / motion sensor that detects heat from an animal passing in front of it. Deercams are mounted on trees at about 50cm above ground, at least 2.5 m from the lure. All camera trap sites were marked using a Global Positioning System (GPS). Several types of commercially available scent lures were used to make the camera site more attractive to carnivores, e.g., Magna Glan, Midnight Mist and Powder River. Lure was smeared into a split made into a small stick near the center of the detection range for the camera. Each camera location was surveyed for 25 – 40 traps night. Habitat, forest age and site description was noted and all camera data were placed in excel file and GIS for further analysis. Each camera was positioned adjacent to game trails, pathways, or natural salt licks. Generally productive sites were assumed to be trails (especially where two trails cross), natural corridors, drinking sites, and underneath fruiting trees. Animal signs were noted, e.g., tracks, footprints.

That was a brief introduction of my study and what we been used. Interesting hah!.

After finishing almost 3 and a half years of study period, we managed to come up with very solid evidences that some animals can reside in such environment providing that, natural forest should be kept or set aside to act as wildlife reservoir.

After gained all the experiences, motivations and enthusiasm from various fieldwork, i myself, for the first time in my entire life, was selected, no no... officially invited to United States of America to gain more capacity building through short-term scholar project in National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC and Conservation and Research Center, Virginia, USA. Can you believe that?? I may be a daydreaming. But this is real. So real. So damn real. Finally........ i get to see what i have dream off for a long time. What should i do next.?? Now i am nervous again. Doubly worried.

In the last chapter of Living The Dream - Final Part (The World Is Not Enough), i will share all of my interesting, funny and sad moments during the 2 months period of working and living in the USA.

See you all soon. Adios!

to be continued.....

25 January 2011

Living The Dream - Part 2 (Learned From The Best To Be The Best)

Who would know bats are such a gentle and amazing creature without touching them by yourself? Who would know bats and swifts can co-exist or share the same environment together without hurting each other although they are from different species and origin? Who would know there will be hundred of species of mammals wandering around in such a small place sharing same habitat and foraging area? Now i know how lucky i was that i managed to learn all this stuff from experts voluntarily helping us to conserve wildlife in our own yard. Not many people out there have the same opportunity as i was and i know my time has come. No traffics. No politics. No civilization. All i have was just an eager spirit to learn and grab all the knowledge as  much as i can. 
That day, I promised myself that, it will be the greatest journey ever in my career as a wildlife researcher, finding and studying new and old species of mammals particularly, and biodiversity as a general. 
What will you feel when you're holding the skin of rats that you peel by yourself for the first time? Honestly, i feel  the blood of satisfaction runs through my veins. Initially, it was scary and kinda weird. And guess what?? my wife was 2 months pregnant!. You know what i mean right? in my tribes (Iban) belief, it is prohibited for both husband and wife during pregnancy to peel animals skin (and many more but i will not talk about that here) because it will cause a very bad omen to your born (child) later. It happened before to others. But, i forgot. I really, really have forgotten what my ancestor had told me about bad omens in our tribe perspective. 
Days after days i managed to 'adapt' to the new environment and style of working especially under experts. They really helped me a lot to become who i am today. I chew every details of the subject that they had told and explained. The enjoyment of working with them and all the new stuffs i learned overcame all the tiredness of working almost all day and night. During a day, we try to catch diurnal (active during a day) mammals and  at night, we catch bats. and imagine how many specimen we had. Hundreds of them waiting to be analyzed and measured. What are the species? You name it!  
Catching bats is always challenging to me. Mist nets and harp traps were used and set all over their possible flying pathways. Patient is always the key. During the process of removing them from mist nets was always a memorable one. I've been bitten for countless of time but i never complaint. Finally i managed to master it. There's a technique on how to hold them that makes them calm and not become aggressive and stressful.

To be continued in Living The Dream - Part 3 (Tomorrow Never Dies)