On January 2018 our field staff at Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF), Iwan, assisted the team from the University of Exeter for the field course that took place in the Tana Ulen Forest situated in Setulang Village of Malinau Regency, North Kalimantan. He assisted the field course team in doing butterfly and dragonfly surveys.
There were more than 30 participants involved in the field works that included 3 university lecturers from Exeter, 2 assistant volunteers, 20 students from the Exeter University, and 9 students from Tanjungpura University (UNTAN). One of the university lecturers that led the field course was Dr. Frank Van Veen, an Associate Professor of Ecology and Conservation from the University of Exeter. Dr. Van Veen has been working with BNF as a part of the research project teams.
As the name implies, the Tana Ulen Forest is inhabited by Dayak Kenyah, one of the Dayak Tribes that lives nearby the forest area. It is basically an indigenous-based forest management to which the local communities heavily depend on their life on. It’s not a surprise that the local communities give a significant contribution to Tana Ulen Forest conservation through their social living and custom.
Apart from the forest management, Tana Ulen is typically a dipterocarp forest which is home to a high number of plant and animal species. It was one of the reasons why the field course was held in this forest.
The butterfly survey was divided into two areas of the forest; the riverside and the highland areas. In addition to that, Iwan brought two methodologies to the participants for doing the survey; by using the trap and the net. The trap was used in the highland area while the net was employed in the riverside. The area was divided into two due to butterfly species classifications. The riverside net is merely focused on tricking the butterflies that specifically eat carcass or any rotten food that they can find around the river. However, there was no high expectation for the results because the team did not use any food that was designated to entice the butterfly to get trapped.
Even so, the field course was not specifically aimed at surveying the butterflies or dragonflies. The team of the field course also focused on the other living species such as birds, frogs, cockroach, leech, ants, and fish. As the group was split, the information regarding the survey was limited to birds, cockroach, and fish.
Practically, the team was trained to do the mapping of the bird species that flew over the trees in the forest while cockroach was studied to find out the time that they needed to camouflage or how many minutes the cockroach used to camouflage. The frogs were simply done in the night survey. The interesting finding was on the fish survey because the team from the Exeter University has been carrying out a research for 3-4 times back regarding the fish survey. During the event, they found two unique species from the family of catfish (or lele locally) and the anchovy fish in the river to be studied.
From the field course, Iwan did not only share his experience but also learnt a lot of things. “Not only that I learnt the new techniques for carrying out the survey, I also love multicultural interactions between the groups. Prof. Frank (his preferred name for Dr. Van Veen) also showed me a structured plan for assigning the students during the field course which is very effective and fun” said Iwan.