project review

Science Updates

Review submitted by Vittoria Elliott
Review date 11 Oct 2010

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After a very successful research program of last phase, we are back in Kampong Leng looking forward to extending and expanding our surveys into deeper depths of the forest and focusing our efforts across the wealth of flora and fauna that we managed to get a snap shot of before.  Based more completely in our field site, we need only step out from under the tarp and start our surveys on the back doorstep.  Our location this phase is at the base of one of the awesome forested hilltops, just above the flood plain – providing a unique opportunity to investigate the edge effects of the flooded forest and to watch as the ‘lake’ turns back into a scrub forest and rice paddies as we go from the rainy season to the dry season this phase.

If you tuned in to last phases reports you’ll remember the colony of flying foxes that we kept a close eye on – well, they have fled to higher grounds since the downpours started two months ago and without a boat or a swimming costume, it would not be possible to reach the flying fox colony even if they were still in residence.  But, as the waters recede we are reliably informed by our local support team that the flying foxes will return.  Keeping an eye out over the waters to the flying fox colony trees, we hope to observe their return and perhaps get an idea of what cue they might be following to do so. 

The flooded lowlands drive the fauna up in to the open dipterocarp forested hills, isolating them on an island whilst at the same time providing the all important water and nutrition necessary for these species, which tempts them back to the waters edge.  This fortunate dynamic makes our life easier as we need only survey the waters edge at the base of the hills to identify what regular visitors there are – increasing our potential for some real live captures on our camera traps!

We are not only on an island with mammals but the rains draw out the frogs and reptiles and amphibians and we’ll be running around like mad things trying to chase and identify the herpetofauna to extend our success from last phase and try to get a handle on the relative species abundance.  Our captures last phase were quite frequent but we know better than to get complacent, especially since the herps get into their ‘groove’ in the wet season and what once was a fairly dopey mangrove frog turns in to a bouncing demon – eluding the many hands attempting to capture it.  We will have our work cut out and no doubt there will be some catastrophic attempts ending in very wet humans but we will bravely fact the challenges of amphibian chasing!

In the very last week of last phase we caught sight of a macaque and her baby and heard what we thought were gibbons far off but alas we did not have the time to investigate further – we now have the time and we will definitely be monkeying around in the forest trying to get a little bit closer to the source – hopefully we’ll have some info or even some pictures by our next report.

Turning our attention to the skies once more,  we will survey for important endangered water birds – having identified there presence in small numbers last phase as we come to the end of the wet season some species will start to congregate to nest and we hope to be there for the action.

With details of just a few of the exciting prospects that this phase holds for us - we are looking forward to getting stuck in once our ‘palace’ is fully built. Our ambitious and exciting survey plan in place will provide us with ample opportunity investigating this quite unique habitat further in the hope that it fulfils the promise that it hinted at last phase.

Read more about the Cambodia Tropical Wildlife Conservation & Adventure project.