Project update 16: Harimau muda!

No, this is not an update on the fortunes of Malaysia’s youth football team, affectionately named Harimau Muda.

Instead, this is the first update on one of Rimba’s youngest (‘muda’ in Bahasa Melayu) projects – Harimau Selamanya!

This newest project only hit the ground running in February and is still very much in its infancy. However, it has been a challenging and eventful last four months!

At the beginning of April, this project began with a one-week tiger sign survey workshop conducted by Panthera (Drs. Joe Smith and Rob Pickles) for research officers (Hakim, Khairul, Fauzi, Alim, Hafiz, Amirul) from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) and researchers (Wai Yee, Laurie, Jasdev and Reuben) and field assistants from Rimba.

Field assistants Uda, Rasul and Daha sniffing out and marking a tiger spray on a leaf. Scent spraying is a very common form of communication among tigers. The liquid used in spraying is not pure urine; it is mixed with scent gland secretions.

Read the rest of this entry

Toolbox update 6: Methods for studying pollen

Team Pteropus would like to share a few helpful tips and protocols on how to collect and study pollen. This isn’t just useful for budding botanists, plant ecologists or beekepers! It’s also relevant for wildlife ecologists who want to study the diet of animals that feed on flowers. It’s a good way to identify plant species in animal diet, as different types of plants have different, distinctive pollen shapes and sizes. In order to do this, you’ll need to start by collecting pollen samples directly from the flowers themselves, to build up your very own pollen reference library.

The pollen grains of the passion flower (Passiflora sp.) have a very distinctive 'tennis ball' shape

The pollen grains of the passion flower (Passiflora sp.) have a very distinctive ‘tennis ball’ shape

This latest Biologist’s Toolbox post comes to you all the way from San Jose courtesy of Esteban, who shares with us the pollen extraction protocol he was trained to use by his university. Although it’s also possible (and preferable) to use a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM) for pollen studies, this can be complicated and expensive. This protocol provides you with a simple and easy-to-adapt method to be used with a normal light microscope, and which you can easily execute yourself.

According to Esteban: Read the rest of this entry

Project update 15: Mango carnage season!

Sheema examines the dozens and dozens of dropped mango fruits to guess the causes of damage

It’s mango carnage season in Tioman!!!

Why do we say that? Well, if you take a look at the photo above, you’ll get an idea of just how many juicy fragrant mangoes have been left to litter and rot on the ground. And that’s not even counting the ones that fell into the river below! Many have been half-eaten or bitten, while others have simply been smashed and destroyed. These have all dropped from one single gigantic tree, and the Project Pteropus team now have a very good idea of who’s responsible for all the carnage, having caught the culprits in the act… Read the rest of this entry

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