Recently, one of our primate scientists was invited to fly to Balikpapan, a seaport city situated in East Kalimantan, to share her experience working on Red Langurs project. Eka Cahyaningrum or Ika for short has been working with Borneo Nature Foundation (BNF) on Gibbon and Red Langur research projects in the Sabangau peat swamp forest. With the other primate scientists, Ika has been studying two Red Langur groups in the forest by focusing how the loud call by Red Langur may determine their social behavior.
Correspondingly, Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project (OuTrop) finds that Red Langurs, locally known as kelasi in Dayak Ngaju language, are endemic to Borneo that lives in groups of up to 11 individuals. However, one can sometimes see 6-8 individuals of langurs in one group with one adult male and up to three adult females. Due to deficient ecological data available for studying langurs, BNF’s scientists have been paying their attention to study langurs in order to inform the conservation management schemes and to take the intiatives for this species. The research is carried out in Sabangau forest area which also serves as the home for the largest Orangutan population in Kalimantan regions.
Long story short, Ika spent 7 days in Sungai Wain protected forest that is located just 40 minutes away from the city of Balikpapan. It is a protected forest in the east Kalimantan that has a unique biodiversity and is home for many rarely found animal species like sun bears (the city mascot), gibbons, orangutan, macaques, proboscis monkeys (bekantan) and surprisingly Kelasi! However, the local newspaper writes that a study reveals the number of Kelasi is very limited in Sungai Wain forest by only 14 langurs found in 6 transects.
As for the aforementioned reason, Ika was expected to help the local staffs of Sungai Wain forest to share her experience in langur project. This sharing session is packaged in the staff training with 3 participants from Pro Natura (local NGO), 1 volunteer from University of Bristol, and 6 local Indonesian students.
“BNF’s Sabangau Red langur project is the longest and well-established research project focusing on kelasi in Indonesia whose primary concerns have been given to study about the behavior, population survey, and the social data for langurs” said Ika.
Ika explained that the staff training was initiated by the request of Gabriella Fredriksson from Pro Natura who cooperated with one of our BNF’s co-director, Dr. Susan M. Cheyne, to conduct a research and staff training for the local staffs in Sungai Wain protected forest. Previously, Susan has also carried out a research on gibbons in Sungai Wain.
The 7 days training went so effective. In the first and the second days of the training, Ika invited the participants to discuss the survey plan and prepared the necessary properties to bring with while conducting the survey in the forest. They also walked 8 km to the Sungai Wain forest camp. The next day, they started to do the location tagging which is important for the triangulations. Ika gave the participants hands on training applicable to conduct the primate survey in the forest. She and the other participants decided 3 locations in the forest for the triangulation. After the triangulation spots had been decided, Ika spent the following 4 days for taking the data with the participants. She also focused on training them for the data taking and processing on red langurs.
By the end of the story, this one week event is positive not only for the local staff working in Sungai Wain forest, but also for the volunteer and the Indonesian local students who were also involved in the training. It provides the real field research experience in the forest allowing the participants to learn hands on survey and data gathering for red langurs. Most importantly, the training is also expected to open doors for both parties, BNF and Pro Natura, for collaborative research projects such as comparing the data for primate research and the other potential and applicable projects to be implemented in Sabangau as well as Sungai Wain forests.