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Project Update: May 2001

From surveys so far conducted it seems that Anoa are still relatively
abundant in large forested areas where hunting pressures are not
significant. However as more people are accessing forested areas than in
previous years, this will increase the pressure on Anoa, due to their
secretive nature and intolerance of disturbance. Hunting pressures are
significantly higher than expected. As many as 2-4 animals per month are
being caught by hunters from a single village - this level of hunting is not
sustainable. Much of the hunting for Anoa is opportunistic - while people
collect rottan/wood in the forest they lay snares to catch deer, which are
usually abundant, but these occasionally trap an Anoa, which are not easy
to release as they are frightened and pugnacious with sharp pointed
horns.

So far the team has collected 18 sets of DNA samples for analysis and has
set up collection programmes for further samples; measured 10 skulls to
investigate variation between populations, and recorded distribution data
for most remaining forested areas in South East Sulawesi. Initial meetings
have been held with contacts in Central and North Sulawesi to extend the
project there later in 2001. Fact sheets and general information has been
produced in Bahasa Indonesia for an education programme running on
Buton Island, It is planned that similar information will be distributed by
YASCITA NGO in the Kendari area, including posters, leaflets and radio
transmissions.

Population Density and the Conservation status of Belitungs Tarsier in Belitung Island,
Indonesia

Among four subspecies of Western tarsiers, Tarsius bancanus saltator Elliot 1910 is restricted
to the island of Belitung, Indonesia. The land surface was originally tropical forest, but since
the development of palm oil industry in 1992 more than 40% of the land surface are palm oil
plantation. Tin mining and large scaled oil palm plantations directly or indirectly affect the
natural habitats in Belitung Island. There is a permanent threat to the flora and fauna in the
island, in fact there is no terrestrial conservation area on Belitung. Still, the IUCN red data
book (Eudey et al. 2000) has classified the endemic Belitung Island tarsier under the data
deficient (DD) category. Basic information is still needed for the conservation efforts of this
small endemic nocturnal primate.

Tarsiers receive little conservation attention in its geographic range, Indonesia and Philippine.
This lack of attention is probably because tarsiers are uncommon, elusive, rarely seen
(because of their nocturnal habit), and competes for conservation attention of well-known
flagship species, e.g.: Sumatran rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis), tigers (Panthera
tigris), and orang utans (Pongo pygmaeus).

The continuing deterioration of the forest-land in Belitung Island means that there is a high
probability of the species becoming more threatened. A major goal in the conservation of a
potentially endangered species, i.e the Belitungs tarsier, is the estimation of its population
density and home range size. Therefore, as part of the larger study of the ecology and the
conservation status of T. b. saltator, we propose to study the population density and home
range size of T.b. saltator in a habitat type: forest patch surrounded completely by palm oil
plantation, on Belitung Island, Indonesia. This will be accomplished by studying animal
densities, estimate the home range size, as well as food abundance and substrates for
movements of the tarsiers.

The study will identify critical resources for tarsiers' survival and adaptation in Belitung
Island. Results of the study will provide information to improve conservation, wildlife
management, forestry practices, and ecotourisms in the range where tarsiers exist, more
specific in Belitung Island itself. Some preliminary results from the 1st and 2nd phase of
fieldwork of the larger study, which is actually my PhD work, about the ecology and the
conservation status of T.b saltator, uphold part of the reasons to do this project.

The goals of this project are:

1. to provide an estimate of the population density of T. b. saltator on Belitung Island.


2. to provide preliminary home range estimates
3. to discuss the implications of this new information in terms of the conservation
status of the Belitungs tarsier.
4. to closely work together with and inform the local community and arise the public
awareness; this will be accomplished by making leaflets, T-shirts, and conduct
presentation and showing a self-made film/video.