In early January Hannah O Kelly, a WCS technical advisor to the Siema Biodiversity Conservation Project, completed the second part of an intensive training course in biological monitoring techniques. The first session in September 2009 had introduced the monitoring team to many of the fundamentals of wildlife surveys. The course included classroom activities presenting the basic statistical theory underlying survey design and the main models used to develop the surveys that they conduct. It is hoped they will gain a more informed appreciation and understanding of the data that they routinely collect. These classes were combined with innovative exercises that used coloured balls to represent animals along example transects. These were used demonstrate visually the most important elements of Distance sampling.
Following this course the teams worked in the forest for several months setting up a new and enhanced system of line transects. The new network of 38, square, 4km transects should improve the accuracy and precision of population estimates for primates, ungulates, and for the first time Green Peafowl. The January 2010 training repeated some of the field demonstrations from September but also focused on some of the challenges encountered in trying to record primates in the dense forests of Seima. Field observations of groups of Black-shanked Douc were used to practice using equipment such as range finders (used to measure distance) and compasses. The monitoring team also discussed how best to survey groups of primates that may be dispersed through several trees, and moving around and away from the observer. The monitoring team has now developed a method that should improve further the accuracy of population estimates for the globally Endangered Black-shanked Douc and Yellow-cheeked Crested Gibbon.
In the last week of January Mr Nut Meng Hor of the FA led the teams out to the remote west of the SPF to survey the first transects of the 2010 field season. This is the first time this area has been included in the biological monitoring programme, and marks the start of a new chapter in the long term monitoring of globally endangered species in Mondulkiri.
This work is supported by the Liz Claiborne Art Ortenberg Foundation (LCAOF), the MacArthur Foundation and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).