Project Update: March 2018
Because of my poor health after the eye operation in June 2017, I did not work on the forest trail for about two months. Realizing that I am not as fit as before the operation and I know there is a group of macaques (named Hanoman group) living around my home, I started to clear a web of trails in this area. This trail web will enable me to monitor the behavior of the Hanoman group and other animals in the area—knowing their behavior is the key to the successful ecological evacuation in the case of no other viable option to save the wildlife of Malenge Island in the future.
The center of the area is the valley behind my home, just 15-minute walk. I have cleared the floor of the valley (named Bird valley) from thorn palms so that it is safely passable and the canopies are easily seen. I have built a bench from palm fronds under a tree; by sitting or lying on the bench, I can watch macaques and birds clearer now.
I have also cleared the bank of the creek—the hoofprints of babirusa and footprints of macaques are always seen a few days after raining and the babirusas wallow in the puddles of the creek. This creek is ideal for setting up camera traps and finding tarsiers.
So far I have found three big and beautiful fig trees on the trail—fig is the keystone species of Malenge forest because macaques, various birds, and probably cuscus and babirusa eat its fruit and it is a nesting place for tarsier and birds. One of the trees was named Gypgirl ficus because that was Meidy who spotted it first. I have to map all big fig trees on the island in order to protect them being felled by the people.
Dr. DoLittle Nature and Learning Center
Meidy and I have made the center of our yard as a place for local children and adults to learn skills needed for ecotourism. It consists of three benches standing on chopped coconut trunks and woods landed on our shore. There is no roof yet except above the whiteboard in the center of the benches. With the grant I just received from the Primate Conservation Inc., I will be able to build a decent center that protects people from the blazing sun and the heavy rain. Thanks to Noel Rowe, the Director of PCI, for his kindness and time to process my grant proposal; and to Dr. Jane Goodall (and Mary Lewis, her assistant), Dr. Eric Chivian, and Noan Fesnoux for reviewing the proposal. Although the grant is not much, it is monumental for me; for the first time I received donation from a conservation organization.
Garden and forest nursery
I have decided to give up gardening on our east hill—nothing grew from five times of seeding. The topsoil is too thin—rocks 10 – 15 cm underneath—and infertile; moreover, the rain is not adequate for watering the seeds and I have not enough energy and time anymore. However, I will make the Bird valley as a nursery for native plants that support the wildlife in the forest. This program is crucial for the viability of the ecological evacuation plan.