|Having led a number of expeditions to Nepal, India and Ghana for the SES, focussing on the Asian elephant, Professor Adrian Lister, a renowned zoologist now working at The Natural History Museum, will lead an expedition in September 2008 to Sabah, Borneo.
The team will fly to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, take an internal flight to Sandakan, then after a couple of hours overland, arrive at the Danau Girang Field Centre. The field station is located in virgin rainforest flanking the Kinabatangan River with wild elephants, orang utan, proboscis monkeys, pythons and other wildlife.
Each day the team will split into small parties to explore the rainforest on foot and travel further downstream by boat. The objective is to characterise the newly-discovered Borneo subspecies of elephant, Elephas maximus borneensis, so far identified only on its genetics. Using laser rangefinders, team members will accurately measure the height of the animals and record as many as possible by photography for later analysis of ear shape and other features. On encountering family groups, a census of the numbers of males and females, adult and young, will be conducted to assess the reproductive health of the population.
|Training in field observation will be provided by Professor Lister. The team will be assisted by resident scientists attached to the University of Cardiff who have been tracking and radio-collaring some of the elephants. While in the area, a visit will be made to the Gomotong Caves made famous by David Attenborough for their vast colonies of bats, as well as the 'mud volcanoes' where elephants go in search of minerals.
SES is looking at the possibility of making this a two-centre expedition. After Danau Girang Field Centre, the team would move to the south east, to base themselves at the Danum Valley Field Centre which is situated in extensive rainforest. Comparative sampling of elephants in two locations could then be achieved.