Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

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Wilting A.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research | Mohamed A.,WWF Malaysia | Hofer H.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research | Sollmann R.,North Carolina State University
ORYX | Year: 2012

Recently the Sunda clouded leopard Neofelis diardi was recognized as a separate species distinct from the clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa of mainland Asia. Both species are categorized as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. Little is known about the newly identified species and, in particular, information from forests outside protected areas is scarce. Here we present one of the first density estimates calculated with spatial capture-recapture models using camera-trap data. In two commercial forest reserves in Sabah (both certified for their sustainable management practices) the density of the Sunda clouded leopard was estimated to be c. 1 per 100 km2 (0.84±SE 0.42 and 1.04±SE 0.58). The presence of the Sunda clouded leopard in such forests is encouraging for its conservation but additional studies from other areas, including protected forests, are needed to compare and evaluate these densities. © 2012 Fauna & Flora International.


Kawanishi K.,Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers Secretariats Office | Clements G.R.,WWF Malaysia | Gumal M.,Wildlife Conservation Society | Goldthorpe G.,Fauna and Flora International | Sharma D.S.K.,WWF Malaysia
ORYX | Year: 2013

Abstract Tiger Panthera tigris populations are under threat from poaching and depletion of their prey populations. The National Tiger Action Plan for Malaysia contains several actions addressing the threat of legal and illegal hunting of tiger prey species. One action in this plan required an investigation of whether urgent policy changes were needed to improve the protection of the prey of tigers, based on existing data. As the lack of reliable baseline data prevented us from determining population trends accurately, we compiled camera-trapping data from 23 studies conducted between 1997 and 2008 on four principal tiger prey species (sambar Rusa unicolor, barking deer Muntiacus muntjac, wild boar Sus scrofa and bearded pig S. barbatus) and two potential prey species (gaur Bos gaurus and Malayan tapir Tapirus indicus) and compared their distributions and relative abundances. From 10,145 wildlife photographs spanning 40,303 trap-nights, sambar, bearded pig and gaur appeared to be most threatened given their restricted distribution and low relative abundance. Among these, the gaur has full legal protection and has received more conservation attention than the other two species. Following our assessment and advocacy a 6-year moratorium on hunting both sambar and barking deer was imposed by the Malaysian government and the highest protection status possible was afforded the bearded pig. This case study illustrates how best available data (BAD), in this case from camera-trapping studies, can be harnessed to effect precautionary policy changes to curb the impacts of hunting on threatened predator and prey populations that could crash well before resources would otherwise be available for rigorous scientific assessments. © 2013 Fauna & Flora International.


Linkie M.,Fauna and Flora International | Guillera-Arroita G.,University of Kent | Smith J.,Panthera | Rayan D.M.,WWF Malaysia | Rayan D.M.,University of Kent
Integrative Zoology | Year: 2010

With only 5% of the world's wild tigers (Panthera tigris Linnaeus, 1758) remaining since the last century, conservationists urgently need to know whether or not the management strategies currently being employed are effectively protecting these tigers. This knowledge is contingent on the ability to reliably monitor tiger populations, or subsets, over space and time. In the this paper, we focus on the 2 seminal methodologies (camera trap and occupancy surveys) that have enabled the monitoring of tiger populations with greater confidence. Specifically, we: (i) describe their statistical theory and application in the field; (ii) discuss issues associated with their survey designs and state variable modeling; and, (iii) discuss their future directions. These methods have had an unprecedented influence on increasing statistical rigor within tiger surveys and, also, surveys of other carnivore species. Nevertheless, only 2 published camera trap studies have gone beyond single baseline assessments and actually monitored population trends. For low density tiger populations (e.g. <1 adult tiger/100 km2) obtaining sufficient precision for state variable estimates from camera trapping remains a challenge because of insufficient detection probabilities and/or sample sizes. Occupancy surveys have overcome this problem by redefining the sampling unit (e.g. grid cells and not individual tigers). Current research is focusing on developing spatially explicit capture-mark-recapture models and estimating abundance indices from landscape-scale occupancy surveys, as well as the use of genetic information for identifying and monitoring tigers. The widespread application of these monitoring methods in the field now enables complementary studies on the impact of the different threats to tiger populations and their response to varying management intervention. © 2010 ISZS, Blackwell Publishing and IOZ/CAS.


News Article | March 4, 2016
Site: news.yahoo.com

Traffic said that in one case last year, a wildlife smuggler was arrested in Indonesia after selling rare species including hornbills (pictured) using Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger (AFP Photo/Romeo Gacad) More Social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram are increasingly being used in Asia as platforms for the illegal trade in threatened species ranging from rare birds to orangutan and sun bears, conservation groups said Thursday. The trend poses a new and worrying threat in a tech-savvy region where products derived from endangered species are sought for traditional medicines and exotic animals are prized as pets, said wildlife-trade monitor Traffic and conservation group WWF. "Traders are clearly moving to non-conventional methods of sale such as utilising online portals and social media in order to evade detection, reach a broader audience and increase transaction efficiency and convenience," Traffic said in a report released to coincide with Thursday's World Wildlife Day. Growing numbers of traders are using Instagram, closed groups on Facebook and password-protected online forums to reach Asian customers, it added. Traffic said in a single month in China last year, thousands of ivory products, 77 whole rhino horns and large numbers of endangered birds were found advertised for sale on sites such as QQ and WeChat, which are popular in China. "The wildlife trade network is getting smarter and more sophisticated," WWF Malaysia director Dionysius Sharma told AFP. "We need to be one step ahead and come up with creative solutions to eradicate this problem." Traffic's report focused heavily on Malaysia, where Facebook use is high. Over a 50-hour period last year, it monitored 14 Facebook wildlife-trading groups catering to customers in Malaysia, counting more than 67,500 active members of the groups. During the observation period, scores of traders put up more than 200 individual posts offering to sell live wild animals ranging from rare birds to orangutans and sun bears, it said. Often, photos of for-sale animals were uploaded to Facebook, Instagram, and other sites, while bargaining took place over platforms like WhatsApp in Malaysia and BlackBerry Messenger in Indonesia. "Trading appears to be very relaxed and traders will happily provide their contact details and will sometimes offer to deliver the animal to the buyer's home address," said the report. Facebook groups can quickly change their names or shut down and pop up in another guise, highlighting the challenges facing law enforcement. A trade in exotic pets also was growing, said Elizabeth John, a Traffic spokeswoman. "Having a dog or cat isn't enough for people anymore. They want unusual and exotic pets now," she said, adding that the slow loris, an endangered Southeast Asian primate, was among hot favourites in Malaysia. Traffic said it was working with enforcement agencies in many countries on the issue and also was in contact with Facebook. It called for "closer collaboration between law enforcement agencies and Facebook". But Traffic's report quoted a Facebook spokesperson saying the social media giant does not allow such activities on its site and was "committed to working with Traffic to help tackle" the problem. A spokeswoman for Malaysia's Department of Wildlife and National Parks said the agency was addressing the issue. "From 2014, we have conducted special operations and have arrested several masterminds and rescued wildlife species as well," she said, providing no specifics. Traffic said that in one case last year, a wildlife smuggler was arrested in Indonesia after trying to sell a young Sumatran orangutan, one of the world's most endangered primates, using Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger. He had also sold other rare species such as slow lorises and hornbills.


Kanagaraj R.,Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research | Wiegand T.,Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research | Mohamed A.,WWF Malaysia | Mohamed A.,Universiti Malaysia Sabah | Kramer-Schadt S.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
Raffles Bulletin of Zoology | Year: 2013

Knowing the distribution of species and the factors which determine it is a basic requirement for conservation efforts and developing management plans. Species distribution modelling (SDM) is a speedy and cost-effective tool for predicting species distributions, particularly for species in remote and inaccessible areas. This technique can be applied for example for poorly known small carnivore species in Southeast Asia, a biodiversity hot spot for mammals. SDM is used to gain ecological insights about the environmental factors that determine species distribution, and helps to identify the areas where a species can occur and where confl icts may arise. However, recent advances in statistical theory and computer processing have made SDM a somewhat complex, diverse, and confusing area of research. This review presents an overview over the different techniques of species distribution modelling, and databases needed to answer applied questions in carnivore conservation, particularly in the tropics. We guide the ecologist through different methods which have become established approaches in the scientifi c literature and through freely available resources on abiotic data (environmental layers) for conducting such studies. We summarise the steps involved in predictive species distribution modelling, where the (carnivore) occurrence data come from different resources (such as museum records, voluntary surveys, systematic surveys, etc.). Finally, we explore the applications of such predictions in carnivore conservation. © National University of Singapore.


Aziz S.A.,WWF Malaysia | Clements G.R.,Rimba | Clements G.R.,James Cook University | Clements G.R.,University of Malaya | And 3 more authors.
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2013

For conservation to be effective in forests with indigenous peoples, there needs to be greater recognition of indigenous customary rights, particularly with regards to their use of natural resources. Ideally, legislation regulating the use of natural resources should include provisions for the needs of both indigenous peoples and biodiversity. In reality, however, legislative weaknesses often exist and these can result in negative impacts, either on indigenous peoples' livelihoods, their surrounding biodiversity, or both. Here, our case study demonstrates why conservationists need to pay greater attention to natural resource legislation affecting indigenous peoples' rights. Apart from examining relevant laws for ambiguities that may negatively affect biodiversity and livelihoods of indigenous people in Peninsular Malaysia (known as the Orang Asli), we also provide supporting information on actual resource use based on questionnaire surveys. In order to address these ambiguities, we propose possible legislative reconciliation to encourage policy reform. Although there are positive examples of conservationists elsewhere adopting a more inclusive and participatory approach by considering the needs of indigenous peoples, greater recognition must be afforded to land and indigenous rights within natural resource laws for the benefit of indigenous peoples and biodiversity. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


Sollmann R.,North Carolina State University | Mohamed A.,WWF Malaysia | Mohamed A.,Universiti Malaysia Sabah | Samejima H.,Kyoto University | Wilting A.,Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research
Biological Conservation | Year: 2013

Camera-traps are a widely applied to monitor wildlife populations. For individually marked species, capture-recapture models provide robust population estimates, but for unmarked species, inference is often based on relative abundance indices (RAI, number of records per trap effort), although these do not account for imperfect and variable detection. We use a simulation study and empirical camera-trapping data to illustrate how ecological and sampling-related factors can bias RAIs. Our simulations showed that (1) differences in detection between species led to bias in RAI ratios toward the more detectable species, especially at low detection levels, (2) species with larger home ranges were photographed more often, inflating RAIs, (3) species specific responses to different types of trap setup biased RAI ratios, and (4) changes in detection over time blurred true population trends inferred from RAIs. Empirical data for leopard cats Prionailurus bengalensis and common palm civets Paradoxurus hermaphroditus showed that traps set up along roads led to higher RAIs than off-road traps, but targeting roads increased detection more for leopard cats than for common palm civets. Comparing RAIs of Sunda clouded leopards Neofelis diardi and leopard cats with spatial capture-recapture based density estimates across sites, RAIs did not reflect differences in density. Analytical options for estimating density from camera-trapping data of unmarked populations are limited. Consequently, we fear that RAIs will continue to be applied. This is alarming, since these measures often form the basis for conservation and management decisions. We suggest considering alternative analytical and survey methods, especially when dealing with threatened species. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.


Mohamed A.,WWF Malaysia | Mohamed A.,Universiti Malaysia Sabah | Sollmann R.,North Carolina State University | Bernard H.,Universiti Malaysia Sabah | And 5 more authors.
Journal of Mammalogy | Year: 2013

The small (2- to 7-kg) leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is the most common cat species in Asia. Although it occurs in a wide range of habitats and seems to adapt well to anthropogenic habitat changes, surprisingly little is known about this species in the wild. All studies have focused on protected areas, although a large proportion of Southeast Asian forests are timber concessions. During this study, we used large camera-trapping data sets (783 records of 124 individuals) from 3 commercially used forests to investigate consequences of different logging regimes on density and habitat associations of the leopard cat. We applied spatial capture-recapture models accounting for the location of camera-traps (on or off road) to obtain estimates of leopard cat density. Density was higher in the 2 more disturbed forest reserves (X̄ = 12.4 individuals/100 km2 ± 1.6 SE and 16.5 ± 2 individuals/100 km2) than in the sustainably managed forest (9.6 ± 1.7 individuals/100 km2). Encounter rates with off-road traps were only 3.6-9.1% of those for on-road traps. Occupancy models, which accounted for spatial autocorrelation between sampling sites by using a conditional autoregressive model, revealed that canopy closure and ratio of climax to pioneer trees had a significantly negative impact on leopard cat occurrence. Our results confirm that the leopard cat is doing well in modified landscapes and even seems to benefit from the opening of forests. With such flexibility the leopard cat is an exception among tropical rain-forest carnivores. © 2013 American Society of Mammalogists.


Sunarto,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Sollmann R.,North Carolina State University | Mohamed A.,WWF Malaysia | Mohamed A.,Universiti Malaysia Sabah | Kelly M.J.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Raffles Bulletin of Zoology | Year: 2013

Past studies on tropical carnivores and other secretive animals relied on indirect evidence of animal presence such as tracks, scats, or scrapes. While such evidence can be useful for basic studies, using remotely-triggered camera traps offer researchers more reliable evidence of animal presence and, with appropriate study design and analysis, provides an array of opportunities to investigate carnivore ecology. We present an overview on camera trap uses for the study and conservation of wildlife, with a particular focus on tropical carnivores. Our goals are to promote proper and effective application of camera trapping and related analyses. We highlight major research avenues, give relevant examples and lessons learned from published material and from our own experiences, and review available resources for implementation, from preparation and camera trap fi eld set up, to data management, analysis, and presentation of results. Our review considers sampling design with respect to target species or groups of species, the state variable(s) of interest, what constitutes a sample, sample size needed, collection of supporting data (independent variables), reducing bias/minimising error, and data collection schedule. We also highlight some available camera trap database management packages and available statistical packages to analyse camera trapping data. We discuss presenting fi ndings to a wider audience so results become useful in the conservation and management of species. Finally, we discuss future development of camera trapping technology and related techniques for the study and conservation of carnivores in the tropics. © National University of Singapore.


PubMed | Naturalis Biodiversity Center, Leiden University, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and WWF Malaysia
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2016

The coral reefs at the northernmost tip of Sabah, Borneo will be established under a marine protected area: the Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) by the end of 2015. This area is a passage where the Sulu Sea meets the South China Sea and it is situated at the border of the area of maximum marine biodiversity, the Coral Triangle. The TMP includes fringing and patch reefs established on a relatively shallow sea floor. Surveys were carried out to examine features of the coral reefs in terms of scleractinian species richness, and benthic reef assemblages following the Reef Check substrate categories, with emphasis on hard coral cover. Variation in scleractinian diversity was based on the species composition of coral families Fungiidae (n = 39), Agariciidae (n = 30) and Euphylliidae (n = 15). The number of coral species was highest at reefs with a larger depth gradient i.e. at the periphery of the study area and in the deep South Banggi Channel. Average live hard coral cover across the sites was 49%. Only 7% of the examined reefs had > 75% hard coral cover, while the majority of the reef sites were rated fair (51%) and good (38%). Sites with low coral cover and high rubble fragments are evidence of blast fishing, although the observed damage appeared old. Depth was a dominant factor in influencing the coral species composition and benthic reef communities in the TMP. Besides filling in the information gaps regarding species richness and benthic cover for reef areas that were previously without any data, the results of this study together with information that is already available on the coral reefs of TMP will be used to make informed decisions on zoning plans for conservation priorities in the proposed park.

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