Langur Project Penang is an innovative citizen science project led by Jo Leen Yap, a promising young primatologist from Penang. The project is helping to educate the public to understand the challenges facing Penang’s captivating dusky langurs.
Langur Project Penang has been studying the ecology and behaviour of dusky langurs in Penang since 2016. Dusky langurs spend most of their time feeding and sheltering on tall trees but they need to cross the road from the forest to the coast to forage for plants that are important to their diet.
- Langurs mainly cross by leaping from tree to tree (63%).
- However, if there is no tree connectivity, they will move along cable wires (34%) or run across the road (2.6%).
- Langur casualties occur when they accidentally fall when crossing on cable wires or get hit by fast-moving vehicles.
Bridging the gap
In order to help langurs adapt to living in human-impacted landscapes, LPP is spearheading a project to install canopy bridges in strategic locations to enable arboreal wildlife to cross safely. This pilot project will provide valuable information to advocate for sustainable road development not just in Penang but elsewhere in Malaysia.
The education and awareness campaign supported by The Habitat Foundation is a way to help the public understand the challenges faced by wildlife in urban settings and promote empathy and support for these species. In 2018, Jo Leen was recognised as one of the world’s 30 Under 30 by the North American Association for Environmental Education for her contributions.
Visit Langur Project Penang’s facebook page for more information on their activities and programmes.
Other 2018 Grant Recipients
- Project Pteropus – Dr Sheema Abdul Aziz of RimbaNovember 22, 2018Once widespread, fruitbats in Malaysia (Pteropus hypomelanus and Pteropus vampyrus) have now been classified as ‘Endangered’ on the Red List of Mammals for Peninsular Malaysia. Project Pteropus is a research initiative by Rimba Research to fill the gaps in our understanding of old world fruit bats such as flying foxes (Pteropus spp., Acerodon spp.) which are known to be important ecosystem service providers, pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds over long distances. Once a common sight in certain parts of Malaysia, these remarkable flying mammals are a rare sight as numbers have declined with hunting and persecution. Project Pteropus aims is seeking a deeper understanding of bat ecosystem services and conflict situations with humans as an important first step to developing effective conservation solutions. Dr Sheema Abdul Aziz of the NGO Rimba is the lead researcher of Project Pteropus and the recipient of a 2018 Habitat Foundation research grant. She has been studying the ecology of fruit-visiting bats since 2013. In seeking insights into the ecosystem services they provide, she hopes to develop an effective conservation strategy to advocate for these misunderstood animals. We’ll be traversing the length and breadth of Peninsular Malaysia looking for Pteropus roosts and caves frequented by cave nectar bats (Eonycteris spelaea), and also talking to local people and orchard owners. This will allow us to assess the status of these pollinating fruit bats across the landscape, understand local people’s experiences and perceptions of fruit bats, and also identify potential sites for future studies on durian pollination and farmer-bat conflict. We hope to start engaging fruit farmers constructively as equal partners to explore collaborative solutions. – Rimba Conservation challenges confronting fruitbats Caught on camera! However, things are not as they would seem. Fruitbats are not pests but pollinators. Long reviled as pests, numbers of fruitbats or flying foxes, have declined steadily in recent years. They are hunted or chased off by farmers seeking to protect their crop of mangoes and durians. However, findings from research into the ecology of fruitbats has provided some fascinating information. The main food of fruit bats is the fruit of wild fig trees and they play an important ecological role as dispersers of seeds. Camera trap footage reveals that fruitbats do not actually eat durian flowers. They only feed on their nectar without damaging them. Flying foxes also play a central role in durian pollination. These observations have the potential to change the way farmers and local people view them and could provide a strategy to mitigate conflict and ensure the conservation of this species (and ensure the future supply of delicious durians!) Building a common understanding to map a way forward Rimba’s Project Pteropus will focus on the following actions:- establishing contact with fruit farmers collected baseline data on bat roosts and populations identifying suitable sites in Peninsular Malaysia for further research collecting social data on orchard management practices and farmers’ experiences with wildlife conducting outreach and awareness-raising activities The team will collect data on flying fox movement ecology and durian pollination networks. Findings on the economic evaluation of bat pollination of durian in Peninsular Malaysia will also be shared with industry, policymakers, and the general public. Visit Rimba’s facebook page and website for more information on this study. You can also read about Rimba’s research in an article published in The Guardian in February 2018. “World’s most controversial fruit may depend on giant bats for pollination.“ ...
- Sustainable Forest Trail to Gunung Perlis to revitalize Perlis State ParkNovember 20, 2018The Habitat Foundation, as part of its commitment to strengthening protected areas in Malaysia, is partnering with the Perlis Forestry Department to build a 12 km Sustainable Forest Trail to Gunung Perlis. The Gunung Perlis Trail, as it will be known, will enable park visitors to enjoy a scenic hike through this distinctive semi-deciduous forest to summit Gunung Perlis atop the Nakawan Range. The range forms a natural border with Thailand with Thaleban National Park on the other side, making it an important regional transboundary conservation area. The Gunung Perlis Trail is being built by a core team of trail builders supported by volunteers that will pitch in on weekends. Work on the trail will gain momentum in the dry season from December to March and the trail loop is estimated to be completed in March 2019. Perlis State Park, which covers an area of 5,075 hectares, is a small but significant part of Malaysia’s protected area network although few know of this State Park nestled amidst limestone hills, rubber estates, paddy fields and small villages. The initiative to build the Sustainable Forest Trail is expected to awaken awareness and appreciation for the park and nurture a community of regular visitors and supporters. This is part of an overall strategy to revitalize the park and generate recurring income for the upkeep of visitor amenities. Sustainable Forest Trails are uniquely placed to benefit protected areas because the process of building them also helps nurture a strong community of trail builders and supporters working closely with the park management authorities. This community of trail enthusiasts will be called upon to play a continual role in the ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the trails to complement the work of the park’s management team. In support of The Gunung Perlis Trail, The Habitat Foundation has teamed up with the social enterprise MyChangkul because of its impressive track record in designing, building and developing a community around the acclaimed sustainable trails in the Kota Damansara Community Forest and the Shah Alam Community Forest in Selangor. In addition to its role in making these urban forests accessible for recreational use, MyChangkul has in 2018 been called upon to strengthen capacity for state parks in Perak and Johore. Yong Foo Chuen, founder of MyChangkul and Awang Shaffie, Director of Perlis Forestry Department at the start of the trail building training workshop in August 2018 The journey so far In January 2018, MyChangkul began working with the Forestry Department and local guides to map out the most suitable alignment for the Gunung Perlis trail loop. The new alignment is already mapped out using GPS and marked out on the ground. In August 2018, the Forestry Department organized a training workshop facilitated by MyChangkul which attracted 35 participants comprising forestry staff, local nature and outdoor guides and enthusiasts. The opportunity to have a role in building the new Gunung Perlis Trail has been extremely well-received by local people who are excited about building a trail which they can be proud of. They see it as something that will endure as a legacy for future generations. Following the August 2018 training, it was necessary to take a break over September and October to allow the inter-monsoonal rains to pass. In November, with the arrival of drier weather trailwork on the Gunung Perlis trail has now picked up and the core team of trail builders have been making steady progress. On weekend trail days, trained volunteer trail builders join in to share the load. Currently, the trail builders are pushing to complete the first leg from the entrance to the peak – a distance of 8 km – by January 2019. The entire trail loop is expected to be completed and launched by March 2019. There is also scope for volunteers from outside Perlis to chip in towards this historic community-built Sustainable Trail. If you wish to learn more, kindly contact email@example.com...
- Night Spotting Project – Priscillia MiardNovember 3, 2018Night Spotting Project is a research and conservation outreach initiative led by Priscillia Miard who has been studying nocturnal mammals for the past six years, a journey that has taken her from her native France, to the jungles of Brunei and Sabah. She is now based in Penang and has been documenting the distribution of nocturnal species in the forests of Penang and other locations in the Peninsula and on the island of Langkawi. This work will be used towards her PhD at the School of Biological Sciences at Universiti Sains Malaysia. Priscillia’s research is making an important contribution by providing important data on the distribution and density of populations of nocturnal mammals including species that are considered to be vulnerable and endangered such as the Sunda slow loris (Nycticebus coucang) and the Sunda pangolin (Manis javanica). Many nocturnal species play important ecological roles as seed dispersers and assisting in pollination. This work will enhance our understanding of the challenges facing these species and help guide effective strategies to ensure their conservation and their continued role in maintaining healthy forest habitats. In order to conduct this research, aside from assuming a nocturnal lifestyle herself, Priscillia has also armed herself with new wildlife sensing technology which includes a thermal camera and ultrasound recorders. To view these creatures more closely, she used red light torches that do not bother nocturnal mammals and enable her to study their behaviour as they move around naturally. During the Penang Hill BioBlitz 2017, Priscillia made an interesting observation when teamed up with bat researchers from USM – she found that the Sunda colugo uses ultrasound to communicate, a behaviour that has not previously been documented. This finding has been published in the academic journal Bioacoustics and featured in the online magazine Mongabay and the September 2018 issue of Penang Monthly. Night Spotting Project is also committed to enhancing awareness and appreciation of these species among schoolchildren and the general public. She encourages people to accompany her on her night surveys to experience forest habitats at night. You can find out more about these nocturnal species by clicking on the images below. For more information, click on i. If you would like to learn more about Night Spotting Project and participate in their activities, do follow them on Facebook or visit their website. Priscilla Miard and Night Spotting Project received a 2018 Habitat Foundation Research Grant to continue this important research and outreach work. ...
- Langur Project Penang – Jo Leen YapNovember 3, 2018Langur Project Penang is an innovative citizen science project led by Jo Leen Yap, a promising young primatologist from Penang. The project is helping to educate the public to understand the challenges facing Penang’s captivating dusky langurs. Trachypithecus obscurus has many names. They are called lotong or lutong in Malay, and also called dusky leaf monkeys and spectacled langurs. Langur Project Penang has been studying the ecology and behaviour of dusky langurs in Penang since 2016. Dusky langurs spend most of their time feeding and sheltering on tall trees but they need to cross the road from the forest to the coast to forage for plants that are important to their diet. Langurs mainly cross by leaping from tree to tree (63%). However, if there is no tree connectivity, they will move along cable wires (34%) or run across the road (2.6%). Langur casualties occur when they accidentally fall when crossing on cable wires or get hit by fast-moving vehicles. Bridging the gap In order to help langurs adapt to living in human-impacted landscapes, LPP is spearheading a project to install canopy bridges in strategic locations to enable arboreal wildlife to cross safely. This pilot project will provide valuable information to advocate for sustainable road development not just in Penang but elsewhere in Malaysia. Living together The education and awareness campaign supported by The Habitat Foundation is a way to help the public understand the challenges faced by wildlife in urban settings and promote empathy and support for these species. In 2018, Jo Leen was recognised as one of the world’s 30 Under 30 by the North American Association for Environmental Education for her contributions. Jo Leen Yap running an education programme for children. Jo Leen is working toward completing her PhD at the School of Biological Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia. Jo Leen posing with the NAAEE Award in Washington DC with other honourees from Hong Kong and Taiwan. Visit Langur Project Penang’s facebook page for more information on their activities and programmes. Other 2018 Grant Recipients ...