Tuesday, August 06, 2013

A haven of rich biodiversity


THE mountain tops of Sela’an Linau Forest Management Unit (FMU) in upper Baram should be gazetted as a totally protected area.

Emphasising this call, Hose’s Civet and Small Carnivore Project, Borneo (Hoscap) founder and project leader John Mathai stressed that biodiversity was at its maximum in the area.

Speaking to The Star here recently, the research fellow at Universiti Sarawak Malaysia (Unimas) said initial studies had shown that ideally the mountain tops should be legally protected because images captured on camera trappings showed that there were more animals there compared to elsewhere in the lower elevation.

“The whole Sela’an Linau FMU is rich in biodiversity but the maximum (number of animal species) is up on top. Eventually we need to identify a corridor to join the mountain tops to nearby Pulong Tau National Park to better protect the biodiversity in the area,” he said.

The Sela’an Linau FMU covers 55,949ha or roughly 560sq km, of which Samling Group is the licensed concessionaire.

The FMU is thriving with biodiversity, particularly small carnivores, which are considered threatened under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. Some of these species are endemic to Borneo.

A former field researcher with Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), John said the society initiated an exploratory research in Sela’an Linau between 2004 and 2009, adding that initial data collected showed the logging concession area was rich in fauna, particularly small carnivores.

“The Hose’s Civet is endemic to Borneo and during WCS’s research period, we recorded the highest encounter rate of the animal, between 20 and 25 images captured compared to other scientists in other parts of Borneo,” he said.

John said Hoscap decided to continue where WCS had left off with in-depth research in Sela’an Linau last year, focusing on Hose’s Civet and small carnivores which were mainly shy, nocturnal and least known to science.

One of the significant images captured by Hoscap so far was the Bornean Bay Cat last year, one of the rarest and most elusive cats in the world, he said.

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