Friday, December 27, 2013
Thursday, December 12, 2013
You will see how grizzled Ben looks is which is pretty much what he looks like everyday these days.
We are very grateful for a volunteer who has come out to help, Alex from Queensland has given up his summer break to rough it out in the wilds here, living on rice and beans (or maybe not exactly living but existing - since he is probably sick of that already after 5 days - I'll see how he went when they return this weekend!)
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Thursday, October 31, 2013
While out on patrol (he calls it patrolling but really he is just hiking), Ben heard a pair not too far away - heading in that direction, he then heard another pair hooting from the other direction. Soon he was in the midst of them and less than 10 metres away, they came pretty low to the ground and were just really mad at him for invading their territory. He saw a mother, father and two youngsters up higher swinging. He was able to watch them for about 20 minutes. Then he decided to hoot back - that scared them off right away. He then walked for about 200 metres and right in front of him a little above eye level in the trail was another female - not sure if she was part of the family or from another group.
Also today, he saw another group of languars and more hornbills who were flushed out of their fruit tree. Not a bad wildlife day. It will be interesting to see what protection can do for these animals. If we can keep the place safe enough from hunters and poachers, the wildlife which is obviously there, should start to feel safer and be more willing to come out. It is really quite a balancing act because we want them safe and to feel safe but maintaining their wariness of humans is also not a bad thing for their own good if we cannot keep the place safe. It would be ideal if they realised that a certain area was safe and they worked out where the boundaries were. We really need to get some development and training going on in the village to educate about the impact of hunting and also find other livelihoods for them that can directly come out of their non-hunting. We need some development activities which impact them directly which is also contingent on their non-hunting.
No cameras today either. I have his little compact here in Phnom Penh trying to get cleaned up - it is foggy and we were guessing that there was mould build up inside but no repair shop wants to attempt to open it up since it is not broken. I did manage to find a guy who has repaired camera traps before - I hope he can fix ours - both will not power on. It will be fun to see what what we can catch in these traps.
|This wasn't taken by us but this is a female gibbon contemplating something... see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pileated_Gibbon_(Hylobates_pileatus).jpg for credit|
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
The same day he came across more troops of languars and some giant black squirrels. Wild pigs have also been scuffling around the building site and digging up the garden attempt. In general he has noticed that the languars are coming closer and closer to the building site - which is good meaning they are feeling more secure. Lets hope we can protect them. He just told me today that he wants to fence in about 500 ha - the core of the core area to keep out hunters and their dogs.
They also have been trailing more banteng (the wild cows) in the last few days, but not sighted them. They were very very close yesterday and found some big tracks - telling me they were from a wild bull. Of course I asked him how he knew it was a bull. He asked me back why I always question him!? He thinks I don't trust his tracking skills! Anyway, the answer was that the bulls are significantly larger than the females. Valid answer I suppose.
Ben's been out there for the last ten days. He's had helpers from the local village and has been making trails and patrolling. He gets a range of personalities helping him. He has worked out that the older, ex-Khmer Rouge soldier men are much tougher and know how to work hard. This one guy who is on the Community Forest Committee has been helping a lot and has stayed out a lot longer than the others, saying he feels bad leaving Ben out there on his own. Some other guys are less active - one spending a lot of time during the day "conserving energy." Others are a bit free spirited. Actually, mostly they are all very free spirited. They are happy for a couple of days work then need to go and do their other jobs. The soya bean harvest is starting and it is proving more difficult to get helpers from the local village. And then soon after that they will start harvesting the rice which means everyone will be busy with that. We will eventually need to be hiring people on a permanent basis which will be an interesting task.
So this week, they have a finished trail to the temple on the mountain (both terms, temple and mountain are used freely here - temple being a pretty small construction and mountain being about 300 m elevation, maybe). But a trail to this place is progress.
Here are some pictures of the temple and cave taken in 2012 when we bush-bashed our way through.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
It was a good day out. I finally got around to writing up the list to post here so you can look over at The Birds page for an updated list.
Lately, Ben has either been rained in or rained out. He finished up roofing the building and realised he was short of the tin roofing caps, he finished up a storage shed which is lockable. Very important. Then it started to rain and so he came home. He came with us to Phnom Penh for a week sorting out various vehicle issues. And so we returned home for it only to start raining again. It has cleared up now, just in time for Pchum Ben holiday where we get hundreds of visitors to our house - so maybe we'll go out to the forest for a break soon.
That is about it for now. I do have some pictures to put up but alas my battery has run out as I sit here at the bank (where there is fast internet).
Signing off for now.
Friday, September 6, 2013
He brought with him some pictures he had taken. Unfortunately he had forgotten to take our small camera and the only camera he had was the one on the GPS. One we haven’t used before. We had upgraded the GPS to include the camera one, wondering why we needed it. Well it has proven its worth. We have a picture of the banteng that he saw – albeit very small (there is no zoon on the GPS!). And, also shots he took of the latest building progress. Enjoy. I have a recording of a languar (or leaf monkey) barking at Ben – need a better internet connection before I can post that).
Can you see the brown spot in the middle of the page? That is the Banteng.
Here he is, zoomed in, but somewhat pixelated – same shot.
Here is the building #1 on August 27. It is starting to look like a building.
And here, from September 1, is the building with three-quarters of the roof on! Exciting. Now just a floor and we can use it (walls are superfluous – we have never liked walls!)
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Here is a link to a summary of the report of from the World Wildlife Fund for Nature about the banteng that they conducted in 2011.
And here is a video showing a Cambodian news report of the Banteng Status in Cambodia. And another, this time a long report from CTN (Cambodian Television Network) with a more detailed analysis of the situation for the Banteng. Finally a photo essay showing some of the challenges that Wildlife Conservation Society is facing in the North East as they protect the forest there.
Did you know that July 31 was World Ranger Day? I didn't know that there was a World Ranger Day but there is. So there you are!
He has had about 2-4 helpers out there with him. Some have started clearing hiking trails. The rest helping out with the building. And then one of them usually stops work early and makes the meal for everyone.
Ben has been telling me lately how we really don't need to have a garden when you live out there. Today he said we don't even need to buy anything from the shops. This morning he called me and said they had caught about a kilogram of perch. This is exciting for everyone because they have all pretty much run out of food stocks. Ben had taken out a bunch of dried beans and they are almost used up. His helpers don't seem to like his beans. They'd prefer to eat rice and salt. He had given his workers an advance of money so they could buy food to take out there for themselves, but that just meant they bring a tiny bit of dried something - so it had long since run out. But every day they gather leaves. They hunt for various kinds of protein (you don't really want to know what these are) and of course they have the rice they brought from home. Today they had the fish, with some sour green leaves. Yesterday they ate rattan shoots and the day before that bamboo shoots.
So, if we can learn to identify all these good greens, when we move out there we should never be in need of vegetables. I think I still want a garden however.
Friday, August 23, 2013
Report on the Banteng
By Amelie Davis
Daddy was in the forest today looking for snares. He saw three banteng bulls (Bos burmanicus). Two of them ran into the forest, the third bull stayed but as they went towards it, it then trotted away.
A banteng is a type of wild cow. They are like domestic cows except they are wild. A banteng can weigh 400 to 900 kilograms. The banteng legs always have white socks which reach the knee. They also have a white rear end.
In the world, they estimate that the number of banteng is 5,000 to 8,000. In Cambodia from 1960 to 1990 the population reduced by 90 percent. The banteng has been classified as endangered since 1996 on the IUCN Redlist. In 2011, World Wildlife Fund said that there were 2,700 to 5,000 banteng estimated in Cambodia.
The baneng are suffering from loss of habitat that land concessions have been taken for rubber plantations, and other agriculture. Banteng are also suffering from hunting in their dryland forest home.
We hope that people will stop hunting banteng inside this new community forest and it will hopefully be protected from agricultural land concessions which are destroying the banteng's habitat.
Monday, August 19, 2013
Saturday, June 29, 2013
Ben was finishing up as much as he could before he leaves for Nepal and Base Camp on a little hike. He managed to finish up the road project at the end of last week, so it should now be passable in the mud and they started the first building. He is finally onto the fun part of the project. He camped out in the forest this week with 4 workers from our village here in Rovieng – apparently a vast improvement from sleeping in the village on chicken mite infested mattresses with khmer movies (actually Khmer dubbed Thai soap operas) on till 10pm everynight and and all sorts of other diversions! They managed to put up two posts and cement them into the ground as well as build a little shelter to sleep in. They took out about 3 kilograms of fish to eat and the workers foraged in the forest and they ate wild mushrooms and bamboo shoots with their fish.
The corduroy road