What does HOSCAP Borneo aim to do?
The Hose’s Civet and Small Carnivore Project, Borneo (HOSCAP Borneo) aims to improve understanding of the ecology and distribution of small carnivores, focussing on the Bornean endemic Hose’s Civet Diplogale hosei, in a logging concession in Sarawak. By so doing, the project aims to recommend guidelines and management strategies that would ensure the conservation and long term survival of small carnivores in logging concessions throughout Sarawak.
As part of this study, hair snares and automatic infra-red camera-traps will be used to detect small carnivore species within the Sela’an Linau Forest Management Unit (FMU), a logging concession in the Upper Baram, Sarawak. This logging concession is chosen as this is where previous research has recorded a high diversity of small carnivores and the highest number of Hose’s Civet encounters to date (please see Mathai et al., 2010 and Mathai 2010). Different sites in the Sela’an Linau FMU have been identified for these surveys, based on differences in macro-level attributes such as elevation, logging regime and forest type. Additionally, micro-level habitat characteristics will be measured at each camera and hair snare location. Using a combination of camera trap and habitat data, molecular analysis of hair samples, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing technology, researchers can then develop mathematical models to explain habitat preferences of individual species and tolerance levels of these species to different logging regimes, besides identifying major threats and potential areas of high conservation value in remnant forests within the logging concession and in the modified habitat themselves.
This information can then be used by researchers to help formulate guidelines and recommendations for forest managers and policy makers. This will not only help to ensure the long-term survival and protection of carnivores in these logging concessions but also to ensure the responsible and sustainable use of forest resources.
Moreover, this is the first ever autecological study on the Hose’s Civet Diplogale hosei, a species little known to science. As next to nothing is currently known about the Hose’s Civet, this species is of particular significance and interest to this project.
What are the objectives of HOSCAP Borneo?
1) To model the distribution of Hose’s Civet and other small carnivores in relation to habitat characteristics and logging regimes in a logging concession, thereby improving understanding of major threats and habitat requirements. With this information, we can assess the impact of different logging regimes on small carnivores and evaluate how production forests in Sarawak can contribute to the conservation of these species.
2) Estimate abundance of small carnivores in the logging concession and for the Hose’s Civet, generate the first ever estimates of population size.
3) Contribute significantly to the understanding of the ecology of the Hose’s Civet, particularly in terms of home range and dispersal patterns, both of which are completely unknown as of now. By doing so, the conservation needs of the species can be more clearly understood.
4) To encourage the involvement of indigenous communities by making them major stakeholders of the project. HOSCAP Borneo involves local researchers and students, indigenous communities, and the logging company, working together with the support of funding partners, to advance the knowledge base of science on a poorly studied group of species and in particular, a very special animal; we hope to work together as partners, to understand how to improve logging methods so that their impact on local communities and wildlife is truly reduced.
Target species – Hose’s Civet Diplogale hosei
The Hose’s Civet has been described as “one of the world’s least known carnivores”. It is currently listed as Vulnerable under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, though this listing is completely inferential and is based on its naturally highly restrictive range and extensive habitat loss within that range. It is very likely that the species could qualify for a higher threat category once more information is available on its ecology and threats. Hence, research is urgent.
What little is known of the Hose’s Civet by scientists today comes primarily from 17 museum specimens worldwide. There have been very few field sightings and only one live capture of the species to date (1997). The individual captured was released back into the wild after 2 months in captivity. There remains no Hose’s Civet in captivity anywhere in the world today.
We know next to nothing about this species. What we do know about its diet and activity patterns is inferential, based largely on the single individual kept in captivity. Basic factors likely to determine its long term future such as population densities, dependency level on old growth forest, ranging and dispersal patterns, and others, are entirely unknown. No protected area is known to hold a large population of the species and it is unknown whether the population of the species within the Sela’an Linau FMU is large and stable enough to be considered viable, or whether it could form part of a larger population that may occur across surrounding protected areas and logging concessions. Without studying the species, we will never know its ecological role, and what secrets it may be part of, both directly and indirectly. This research will be the first to understand the Hose’s Civet and recommend specific conservation measures for its long term future.
Mathai, J., Hon, J., Juat, N., Peter, A. & Gumal, M. 2010. Small carnivores in a logging concession in the Upper Baram, Sarawak, Borneo. Small Carnivore Conservation 42: 1-9.
Mathai, J. 2010. Hose’s Civet: Borneo’s mysterious carnivore. Nature Watch 18(4): 2-9.
All images © HOSCAP Borneo