Rainforest Conservation Research Project In Malaysia
Fuze Ecoteer has been working in Merapoh since 2013 and has been supporting the Malayan Rainforest Station (MRS) since 2018 when they started their Rainforest conservation research project. In September 2018, MRS split its project into two key components – Conservation and Research Unit and Community Development & Empowerment. This enabled MRS to focus on establishing its research credibility, and also allowed for more focused initiatives in local wildlife conservation, raising awareness and introducing capacity building programs. Collaboration is the key to MRS’s success, hence they work closely with Universities and local Wildlife agencies.
Impact Stats in 2019
to promote conservation from evidence-based data and through active participation of local communities as a holistic and sustainable approach.
Providing platform for scientific research benefiting conservation initiatives especially in the Merapoh Forest Complex.
Achieving conservation and sustainability targets through proactive community empowerment initiatives.
Find out more detailed information about MRS below
MRS is focusing their Rainforest conservation research projects in Merapoh, which is a small hub town with several villages in Lipis district of north Pahang, Malaysia. The town is surrounded by a myriad of uniquely formed limestone hills, outcrops/caves with large internal structures and carvings, which makes it a popular attraction for both local and foreign visitors. Besides, these natural structures are also significantly valuable for scientific research and making discoveries; fossilized remains of Early Triassic species was discovered recently at a limestone hill in Merapoh.
Most importantly, the Merapoh area and its surrounding forest complexes are part of the CFS-PL1 – Sungai Yu Wildlife Corridor – an area of special interest and is considered as one of the most crucial linkage connecting two of the main forest complex in Peninsular Malaysia, Taman Negara National Park and the Main Titiwangsa Range.
Both forest complexes are part of the tropical and lower montane rainforest ecosystems, a treasure trove for flora and fauna biodiversity. As such, Taman Negara is home to a wide range of species, and even rare mammals such as the Malayan tiger, Malayan tapir, Asian elephant, and majestic birds such as the Malayan peacock-pheasant and the Great Argus Pheasant, which are still found here in good numbers.
The Sungai Yu wildlife corridor is also a part of the CFS-PL1 area, which functions as a passage, a gateway for different fauna species to access different habitats for food, shelter, mating, territorial rights, etc., which contributes to their persistence – more genetic variation and diversity within the region. Similarly, when the corridor is used by animals, they can also act as pollinators assisting with seed dispersal of wild flowers and plants.
Research & reports
The Clouded Leopard Project
MRS plans to conduct a long-term ecological and population study on the Mainland Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa) in the Merapoh Forest Complex. Although the study species is listed as Vulnerable, little is known about their natural history or ecology, since most studies generally tend to focus on more charismatic and flagship species.
Hence, there is a crucial need for our research at this stage; to understand the ecology and population status of the clouded leopard for the implementation of better conservation strategies and raising awareness in Malaysia. MRS plan to collect data using camera traps, which is a non-intrusive and unbiased method to record animal presence and activity. They will also collect scats for our dietary analysis of the study species.
Papers published by MRS and partners
Checklist and Diversity of Herpetofauna in Merapoh
Currently, there are lack of recorded collections or past studies on the list of amphibian and reptile species found in Merapoh. Hence, MRS plan to conduct surveys to compile a list of all Herpetofauna that can be found in the area. The identification records are compiled for their herpetological collection, and further to conduct research and publications.
Rhinoceros Hornbill (Buceros Rhinoceros) Project
MRS plan to study and record observational data on the parental behaviour of the Rhinoceros Hornbill in a fragmented forest patch surrounded by agroforested plantations. Their local indigenous guide has kindly assisted them in finding the location of the Rhinoceros Hornbill Nest, and will continue finding more nests to be observed in the future. As Hornbills rarely visit disturbed sites and plantations, this creates an opportunity for the MRS team to study more on the effect of land-use change to Hornbill nesting behaviors.
Conservation in Action
MRS conduct regular patrols within the CFS-PL1 area to collect data on encroachment activities and animal signs that utilizes the area. All data will be shared with the respective authorities and MRS plan to explore new routes and areas within the site to cover a bigger scale that is crucial for conservation of CFS-PL1.
Community Conservation Area (CCA)
MRS is aiming to set up a CCA managed by the local community on their initiative. The CCA could be owned or leased to the locals, which can result in better on-site management via local poaching surveillance and patrols. Also, CCA can be used to generate income through ecotourism and trading of forest goods and services.
Currently, MRS is in the process of creating a forest usage map for establishing a CCA. Here, they will be recording the movement of the local indigenous tribe, the Bateq people in the forest, along with mapping different areas with wildflowers and plants that have medicinal value, or research potential. MRS is currently working with Dr Suganthi from University Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) to investigate the usage of wild ginger in traditional medicine used by the Bateq.
Collaboration & Capacity Building Initiatives
MRS values collaboration and partnerships, hence they work with multiple research institutions, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government authorities in terms of promoting their conservation and research efforts. At the end of 2018, MRS hosted undergraduate and postgraduate students from Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) to conduct their research on flying squirrels (Sciuridae) and bats (Chiroptera). Also, the current MRS team comprises of undergraduate students from University Malaysia Terengganu (UMT).
Bateq Capacity Building (BCB)
MRS is in the process of starting its BCB program, where they will train a few members of the Bateq to build field surveying and conservation skills, i.e., species identification, scientific approaches for data collection using GPS and camera traps, and basic data analyses and data implementation. MRS aims to combine both the Malay and the Bateq to conduct joint anti-poaching surveillance and patrols while assessing the methodology for any issues or improvements.
Community & Engagement Project
In September 2018, The Malayan Rainforest Station split its project into two key components – Community Development & Empowerment and Conservation & Research Unit – to establish research credibility, allow for more focused initiatives, and ensure that both wildlife conservation and community empowerment receive equal weighting, since they are interrelated and equally significant.
Initially, the community project started in 2014 as part of the Rainforest and Conservation Project to provide the Bateq people with basic education, economic empowerment and support cultural and historic preservation of this indigenous tribe. Over time, the project has gradually evolved along with its primary aim, which now focuses on bridging the cultural gap between the local Malay population and the Bateq.
To address this core issue, both projects plan to
- Include the adults from both Malay & Bateq communities in its capacity building programs, community events and conservation workshops.
- Continue investing in the local and Bateq children with a vision to build a tolerant society for the future.
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