Wednesday, August 28, 2013

WWF Report on the Status of the Banteng and more

This is for me mostly - to keep as a reference... But

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!

Hunter Gatherers

Ben has been camping in the forest for the last ten or so days while the first building is going up.  Right now, the posts are all up.  The long beams between the posts are on.  The up and down pieces are attached to those and the "plan" (that is the Khmai word for the horizontal bits of wood that you nail the tin onto) are being nailed on.  After that goes on, then the roof.  You can tell I'm not a builder - I don't even know the English words for all these pieces.  I'm not sure that Ben does either because he always uses the Khmer words which I can't remember.
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

Spotted - Three Banteng

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

Jumping Caterpillars

It has been a long time since we made any installments on this blog.  Ben went to Nepal so all work stopped out at the Forest.  It was a very unfortunate time to go as it was a lovely dry July and the rice farmers did not have enough rain to start planting.  Naturally as soon as he returned, the rains started and all his potential helpers were no longer available.  So instead he got to stay home with us which we all enjoyed.  Last week he went to the mountain and camped for two nights.  The river and mud hole outside the village were too much of an obstacle to traverse with a loaded pickup so he parked that in the village and hiked out.

With no tools and only one man he couldn’t do much work so he traipsed around the forest and had a fun time.  The forest is beautiful this time of year, everything so green and pretty.  I want him to write about it but who knows if he’ll get to it but he spotted two troops (??) of leaf monkeys – silver langurs.  He was able to watch them in the trees for quite a time.  The male and leader was most alarmed and annoyed.  Making loud grunting sounds.  They were way up in the trees and photo attempts were not successful.  He does have a recording of the males agitated scolding.  He also came across a herd (now that is the wrong word) of wild pigs.  They were running away luckily and there must not have been a very angry one there otherwise Ben would have had to run up a tree. 

Well, finally the weather cleared up properly and on Monday, he was able to actually drive the pickup out there loaded with all sorts of equipment and materials.  Today I believe he got another post up on the building.  The most interesting thing however was the spotting of these giant caterpillars.   He has about five workers out there with him.  He noticed them jumping away in fright at something.  On investigation, they had found a large caterpillar, about seven inches long the fatness of a thumb (maybe Ben’s thumb which is pretty large as thumbs go).  The workers were terrified of them.  Ben was told that they jump on you and that they can jump about a metre!   But when they tried to make them jump, they refused to perform.  They are the furry kind that usually sting so it wouldn’t be nice to have one jump on you out of the blue!  Being so big as a caterpillar, they must turn into a pretty big butterfly!  They found about three of four of them and they eat leaves from the Chleat tree so maybe he can keep them till they become chrysalises and see what they grow into.  They might just escape in the meantime. 

And that is the story of the jumping caterpillars.