To protect and restore wetland areas of high biodiversity value in the lower Belait valley, Brunei Shell Petroleum and WI are working together to develop a Biodiversity Action Plan. In order to do this we first need to know what plants and animals are living in the area. Therefore we are carrying out biodiversity surveys focused on peat swamp and estuarine fishes, mammals, vegetation, reptiles and amphibians, birds, dragonflies and bats in the project area.
In January and February of this year we carried out exploratory surveys to find suitable locations for the field surveys. In the first half of March, experts began their surveys on the birds, amphibians, reptiles, peat fish and dragonflies of the project area: on land, in and on the water, from dawn to after dusk. They were assisted by enthusiastic volunteers from the Panaga Natural History Society.
There were two spectacular observations of the rare and elusive Clouded Leopard, which is seldomly seen. More than 150 species of birds were recorded in little over a week, among which threatened peat swamp specialists like Bonaparte’s Nightjar, Hook-billed Bulbul, Wrinkled Hornbill and Cinnamon-headed Green-Pigeon. However, some bird species, just like most monkey species, seem to occur in (much) lower densities than in similar areas on Borneo, perhaps due to hunting and poaching either now or in the past.
Over 60 dragonfly species have been recorded in the area already, out of which two species were identified as new species for Brunei and one species of which the population in the project area probably makes up more than half of the world population. Fifteen species of frogs were discovered, of which one is a new species for Brunei, and also fifteen species of peat fish were recorded.
From April onwards, surveys on the above species groups will continue and the surveys will be expanded to also include mammals, estuarine fish and vegetation.