HOPE Report No.38, 8th, April 2005.

Program No.38 (Joint research)

Visiting Danum Valley Conservation Area, Borneo

Goro Hanya : Occupation: Post-doctoral research fellow of JSPS, Primate Research Institute, Kyoto University

Place of visit: Danum Valley Conservation Area and Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary, Malaysia

Period of visit: 10 March, 2005 - 22 March, 2005

Contents of research:
I have been studying ecology of Japanese macaques which live in temperate forest. To understand the characteristics of ecological adaptations of temperate primates, it is important to compare with tropical primates, in particular macaques in South Eastern macaques. The purpose of this visit is to look for a study site to conduct such a study. I visited candidates of study sites in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo and examined the possibilities of researches there.

Danum Valley Conservation Area is a forest reserve of 438km2 in area and is managed by the Sabah Foundation. It is two hours from Lahad Datu, the nearest town and one hour from any other habitation by car. The forest is less disturbed and hunting is strictly forbidden. There are two facilities in this area, Danum Valley Field Center (DVFC) and Borneo Rainforest Lodge (BRL). The former is for research and education and the latter is for tourism. These facilities are 48 km apart, or one hour by car.

In both areas, I encountered at least two diurnal primates every day. In one day, I observed four primates, including orangutans, Muller's gibbons, maroon leaf monkeys, and pig-tailed macaques. Pig-tailed macaques are common around DVFC, but rare around BRL. On the contrary, long-tailed macaques are common around BRL but rare around DVFC. Orangutans were habituated around both facilities. Other species were habituated around BRL, but not around DVFC.

In DVFC, researchers are given independent houses and can use the laboratory and computer room. Access to internet is possible. Permanent research assistants are available. Flushing, flowering and fruiting phenology is censused every month by these research assistants. Trails of more than 50 km in length and permanent vegetation plots are established. There are no facilities for research around BRL, but trails are established as well as DVFC.

I also visited Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. Ikki Matsuda, a graduate student at Hokkaido University, started the research of proboscis monkeys in this February. Many primate groups, including proboscis monkeys, pig-tailed macaques, long-tailed macaques and silver leaf monkeys gather along the Kinabatangan river in evening. They are quite habituated and easily observed from boats. The forest is disturbed, and tree height was low, thus observation condition inside the forest is probably not bad. Orangutans and Muller's gibbons are also distributed in this region.

Dining room at the Danum Valley Field Center


Orangutan at the Danum Valley Field Center


Proboscis monkeys at Sukau, Kinabatangan