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I presented my research on Tuesday morning here at the Pathways to success: Integrating human dimensions in to wildlife management conference. There was a good audience and it seemed to go down really well. There were lots of questions and a lively discussion afterwards. It was so nice to be able to discuss my work with like-minded people and other conservationists working in the field.

I wouldn’t want you lot to feel left out so I managed to get someone to take some footage of the presentation. It was filmed on my iphone so the sound isn’t great but you can just about hear me if you turn up the volume. It’s the entire presentation and the questions. I’ve also uploaded the presentation slides with a voice over of the talk so you can see the talk in more detail.

There are some video clips in the presentation (easiest to see in the second video) which show the monkeys crop-raiding up close.

Here is the full talk:

And here are the slides with a voice over of the talk

I hope you enjoy them – do let me know what you think

:)

So I’ve made it to Breckenridge, Colorado to the conference I told you about in my last post. It’s being held in a conference centre just outside of town right up in the Rockies. The scenery is beautiful and there is plenty if wildlife about (so I’m happy! :) ). On the bus ride up here I saw buffalo, prairie dogs and big horn sheep and have seen some cool birds and a fox since arriving last night. The aspen are just turning so it’s really stunning and I’m looking forward to a walk in the forests at some point (if the weather doesn’t get too bad!)

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So far it’s been really interesting. I’ve listened to some talks on human-big cat conflict in Kenya and India – studies trying to reduce retaliatory killings of lions and mapping of local tolerance to tigers (who have been attacking villagers). There’s also been a fascinating session about a project in Bolivia and how they have worked with local communities to help them conserve and manage their wildlife and forests.

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There are so many enthusiastic, passionate and intelligent, like-minded people here – it’s fab!

There are plenty more sessions and talks to hear yet – can’t wait! :) My talk is tomorrow morning so I’m hoping to get a good audience and a lively debate going! :)

The work I do in Buton not only has real-life, on the ground application but is also helping to advance the science of wildlife conservation and management.

So, although I’m only just back from Indonesia, I’m off to Colorado on Saturday (22nd) to present the work I’ve been doing in Buton for the past years at a conference that takes place every 2 years which focuses on human-wildlife conflict and it’s management:  Pathways to success: Integrating Human Dimensions into Fish and Wildlife Management

It should be a a really interesting 4 days. I’ve presented here before and it’s full of like-minded people working in conservation and wildlife management and the program  looks great so it should be fun :)

I’ll be giving my presentation on Tuesday 25th (this is my session)

So for a short while you’ll have a break from seeing more footage and info from my recent trip and instead I’ll be posting interesting (in my humble opinion :) ) insights from the conference :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The talk I’m giving is:

Buton Macaques (Macaca ochreata brunnescens): Crops, Conflict,and Behavior on Farms

One consequence of anthropogenic habitat alteration is that many nonhuman primates are forced into conflict interactions with humans and their livelihood activities, especially through crop raiding. These problems are particularly acute for the endemic and threatened Buton Island macaque (Macaca ochreata brunnescens), in southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. Our study investigated the crop raiding behavior of this species over time. Foods eaten and the behavioral repertoire exhibited by macaques during crop raiding at and inside farm perimeters were observed over a period of 8 years (2002-2009). Storage organ crops (e.g. sweet potato) were abundant and most frequently raided by macaques. Individual macaques were most commonly observed to raid close (0-10 m) to farm perimeters. Activities such as feeding, resting, moving, and social interaction varied significantly as a function of penetration distance into the farm, but only marginally between age-sex classes. The annual average raid frequency per farm decreased over the latter years of the study period, raising questions about changes in macaque foraging and ranging behavior over time and their response to farm management and mitigation strategies. Characterizing raiding behavior and understanding daily activity budgets are essential from a conservation perspective. Human-macaque interactions have yet to escalate into overt conflict at this study site as religious and traditional views on nonhumans promote some sense of co-existence. It is therefore vital that we help manage this rare instance of ‘‘tolerant” human-wildlife interaction before it reaches an escalated and crisis conflict situation.

I’m now back in the uk and before I start posting some other footage and photos I took whilst I was away I’d like to say a final thank you to everyone that supported this project this summer. I am so very grateful to everyone for all the donations :) Your donations enabled me to: – run education workshops in 5 local schools for over 500 seven to eleven year olds all about monkeys, conservation and protecting the forests. Particular thanks to The Canning Trust for this element of the project.

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- work with local communities to install netting around farmer’s fields to help prevent monkeys coming in to the farm and stealing crops. This reduces conflict with farmers and helps protect the monkeys. 25 farmers benefitted this year.

- Provide farmers in the village of Kawelli with chilli and vegetable seeds to plant in their farms. These crops aren’t damaged by monkeys so frequently so this helps to reduce conflict and protect the monkeys.

- Employ 6 local people for 9 weeks to track the monkeys in the forest. They collected data on home range, feeding, behaviour and group composition. This information is vital to monitor the population sizes of the macaques and to help create sustainable management plans to mitigate conflict with local people.

There is so much more to do but none of this would have been possible without your help so thank you!

You can read all about the monkeys and the school visits and the wildlife of the Island on my previous posts – just scroll down :)

Thank you thank you thank you! :) xxx

If anyone wants to donate to the project you can do so here :

Help save the Buton Macaque!!

Time to say goodbye

My time on the island is at an end for this year and I’m now back in Java finishing up and waiting for my exit permit to return to the uk.

So it was bye bye to the monkeys and the amazing wildlife of the buton forests.

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And farewell to lazy La Bundo days

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And a big thanks to my team of monkey guides

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Then I was off for the 3 hour drive back to the capital, Bau Bau.

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I was lucky enough to be able to secure a flight back to the mainland this time so it was straight to the airport to check in.

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Then it was a short flight on a small plane from Bau Bau to Makassar

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Bye bye Buton!

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And hello Makassar!

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Then it was another final flight back to Jakarta.

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Now it’s just a case of waiting for my exit permit to be processed. It’s been an amazing field season this year and I’ve got so many more photos and videos to share so once I’m back I’ll upload more for you all to see :) A mahoosive thanks to everyone that made this work possible this year – I’m tremendously grateful and so are the monkeys! :)

The forests I work in face many threats which makes the work that’s being done here so important.

Logging is a familiar problem for forests all over the world and Buton is no exception. Thankfully due to the terrain (hilly!) illegal logging is not as serious as it could be here, at least not once you get a few km’s from the road, but it is still a significant issue.

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Small scale extraction of timber by locals also takes place. This is mainly for domestic use for farm fences, housing and fire wood. Individually it’s not a massive problem but when everyone is doing it it can still have a big impact.

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Rattan extraction is another problem. Rattan is a palm and the rattan canes (rather like vertical runners it sends up in to the canopy) are harvested and sold for export for the furniture trade. They’re used to make that classic conservatory furniture I’m sure you’ve all seen. Huge quantities are taken out the forest every day.

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New trails and access-ways are being opened up in the forest every day. This trail was opened in the last months. They are creating a trail from the road, through the forest, up to farmland on the other side of the forest. They are planning to ‘pave’ it with rocks dug up from the forest and the idea is to create a road for motorbikes and push-carts to help transport the harvests down from the farms. The government is also widening the road that runs around the island which is further eating in to the forest.

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Farmland is being opened up all the time on the edges of the forest and is gradually nibbling away at the forest. In fact one village not too far from La Bundo Bundo has, in the last 5 years, relocated itself illegally to just inside the reserve and opened up a huge area of farmland within the reserve. Sadly no one seems able, or willing, to do anything about it.

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Buton Island’s main export is asphalt. The soils are rich with seams of it, much of which is sadly beneath the forests. More recently deposits of Nickel ore have been found across the island and it is now being mined at a terrific rate. Vast piles of Nickel ore rich soil lies waiting to be loaded on to ships at makeshift jetties to be exported for refining. Most worrying of all large seams of oil and gas have been found beneath the forests. Two years go the oil company Japex surveyed the forest leaving a trail if destruction in their wake as they cut enormous trails, cleared huge areas for helipads and left all their rubbish and waste in the forest. Thankfully so far they haven’t moved to start extracting it. Hopefully the cost will be prohibitive, as if they do start that will be the end of these forests forever.

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It’s not just the forests themselves that are at risk. The animals within them are too. Hunting for food is thankfully not a massive problem but it does take place. The balinese transmigrant communities go hunting regularly with their dogs. They hunt for pigs (the wild endemic sulawesi warty pig) but will catch and kill other animals too if they can. The endemic Anoa (a small, highly endangered, forest buffalo) is also hunted for food. So much so that they’re rarely seen now. In 13 years I’ve only ever seen 3 individuals.

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Other animals are trapped to be kept – either for breeding stock like the jungle fowl (a wild chicken and the ancestor of all domestic chickens), or to be kept and eaten at a later date like the deer.

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I met these little boys one day on the way back from the forest. They were out fishing. When I asked them about it they told me they were catching little fish from around the padi fields to keep as pets. I thought that was quite sweet, then they clarified that they’d just keep them until they were bigger and then eat them! :)

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Birds are often trapped to be kept as pets. Hornbills are particularly sought after but children will catch the little Sulawesi hanging parrots and smaller birds too. Sadly none live long in captivity. This little boy’s parrot had just died. His older brother had caught it for him. As sorry as I felt for the little boy it was such a tragedy – such a beautiful little bird’s life wasted for no reason at all.

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There is also a local Bajo (or sea gypsy) community which lives just off the coast not far from La Bundo. Although traditionally a nomadic seafaring culture they are now semi-settled but still live mostly at sea building off shore temporary housing on stilts. They are particularly fond of keeping birds – especially sea eagles and small parrots.

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Monkeys are also kept as pets. Usually they are not actively trapped or hunted though. Often people end up with them when infants are dropped by the adult females when being chased from the farms. People pick up the infants thinking they are doing the right thing, not realising that if they left it the mother would most likely return and collect it. Monkeys rarely do well as pets. They may last a few years like the two pictured here but once they start to mature they become difficult to handle and aggressive and are either killed or left tied up and ignored to die a slow and lonely death. Usually the infants don’t make it past a few months. People don’t know how to look after them and they die of malnutrition and stress. The little baby monkey I found in the village last year sadly died a few months after I saw him – from what his owners tell me it sounds like it was malnutrition. In a way though it was probably for the best as he has at least been spared a life of misery.

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Reptiles aren’t immune to these threats either. The giant frogs which inhabit the streams here are hunted for food and very occasionally salt-water crocodiles are trapped and kept in small pits as pets. Turtles are also trapped and kept either tied up to jetties or in small wooden cages in the water. Their eggs are also collected and sold at the market.

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So as you can see, this may be a small island and there are protected areas on the island but the wildlife and forests here are under tremendous threat. This is why the work I do is so important and why I’m so grateful to everyone who has supported the project this year :)

As someone who is somewhat vertically challenged I feel I have an affinity with the smaller beasties of this world so I wanted to share with you some of the smaller beauties in the forest. This post is just a collection of photos of flowers and small beasties – some beautiful, some not so, but all wonderful. I’ll let the pictures do the talking :)

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Cicada

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This scorpion I found in my room!

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This big beast is a long horned beetle ( with a big bite!)

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