By Mark Rademaker The main target species of our research on Bawean is the Bawean warty pig. Unfortunately we know all but nothing about this animal. We do not know how it lives, and perhaps more importantly, we also do not know where it likes to live! Therefore we are trying to map the habitat that is available on the island. We measure things like habitat type, canopy cover and the number of fruits on the forest floor across more than 100 locations. In this way we build a picture of how much of each habitat is actually available for the pigs. We can later compare this with the habitats at locations where we find the pigs and this helps us calculate precisely which habitat it is that the pigs prefer. The habitats on the island mostly follow a pattern with rice paddies and other agricultural crops such as cassava cultivated in the lower parts and valleys of the island. Above the rice paddies and crop fields we find community owned forests with a lot of black sugar palm, banana’s, bamboo, mango and teak. About halfway up the mountain the community forest ends and the Nature reserve starts all the way up to the top of the mountain. During the past few days we have already conducted habitat assessments at 16 locations spread over the islands nature reserve. Most of the locations were separated by a couple of hundred meters. When you think about this in absolute distance you might think it is not that far, but Bawean is in fact an extinct volcano and the island is riddled with mountains. In our case this meant that for most of the time the first point was at the bottom of the mountain, the second on the top and the third at the bottom on the other side. The fact that there aren’t many roads in the reserve sometimes even meant climbing straight up through the undergrowth or rocky riverbeds! But no matter how exhausting the climb, the nice thing is that once you are on top of the mountain, the view is always amazing. With three months of climbing remaining there should be enough beautiful panorama’s just waiting to be discovered!
Photos: Left:Bawean from above: At an altitude of about 580 meters. The mountain lake called Kastoba is located at about 150 meters and can be seen in the centre of this photo. Right: Team at work. From left to right team members Simen, Shafia and Mr. Rahim are setting out a plot for habitat assessment.