KOTA KINABALU - Wildlife researchers are hoping that they can understand how small carnivores such as civets and otters are able to exist in a mix of forests and plantations in Sabah's Lower Kinabatangan region through satellite tracking.
The researchers recently trapped a male civet from Lot 5 of the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary and fitted him with a transmitting collar before releasing him. They are hoping this civet could provide key information on small carnivores such as their foraging habits.
"The data collected can provide information regarding how small carnivores are using the forest and oil palm plantation matrix in the Kinabatangan region," said Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu.
"The results will in turn guide management plans and conservation actionsin the future."
The trapping and fitting of the collar on Oct 26 was carried out by SWD, the Kinabatangan Small Carnivore Project (KSCP), Cardiff University (CU) and the Danau Girang Field Centre. It was funded by the Sime Darby Foundation and Houston Zoo.
After trapping and sedating the 5.5kg civet, which the researchers named Tenang, they recorded its length and weight, and took saliva and faecal samples before fitting it with a 70g collar that would relay his whereabouts for the next five months.
Danau Girang director Dr Benoit Goosens said a number of small carnivore species, including six species of the civet, and two otter species, had been found within the Kinabatangan region.
"Our project strives to understand the influence of habitat fragmentation on these small carnivores," he said.
Cardiff University graduate student Meaghan Harris said the initial data from Tenang's satellite collar was important to help specialists map out Sabah's biodiversity conservation plans.
"Civets, although not as flashy as larger carnivores such as the Sunda clouded leopard and the Malayan sun bear, are very important to the rainforest ecosystem," Harris said.
"It will be an adventure to study these animals."