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Searching for the Endangered Grizzled Surili in and near Kutai National Park, Indonesia

  Miller’s Grizzled Surili 
  Miller’s Grizzled Surili
(Presbytis hosei canicrus)

Arif Setiwan

Our survey was conducted in March and April of 2008, just outside of Kutai National Park in East Kalimantan province of Indonesian Borneo. Kutai National Park itself has been devastated by fires and few primates still inhabit what is left of it. Two major rivers, the Karangan and Baai originate from karst mountain to the west. Boat surveys were conducted on the rivers. Along these rivers, vegetation is found only near the water in a 20-30 m (100 feet) wide strip on both sides. Beyond this thin corridor is newly cleared land where oil palm plantations are being planted. During the survey of the Karangan River we heard a group of gibbons (Hylobates muelleri) call, nine groups of Bekantan or Proboscis Monkey (Nasalis larvatus), two groups of Lutung or silvered leaf monkeys. (Trachypithecus auratus), four groups of Beruk or pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) and nine groups of Ware or long tailed macaques (Macaca fascicularis).

On the river Baai, near Pengadan village, we finally found what we were looking for the “Berangat” which is the vernacular name of Presbytis hosei.  Two individuals were seen in a mangrove tree by the river. They had dark grey hair on the back, white in the front of the body from inner base of the tail up to the neck and half of lower cheeks. We clearly observed its distinctive face which was dark black or brown with white hair from lower lips up to the ears. We were positive when we heard their calls which were loud and from the throat. In all we found only four individuals one of them was an infant or juvenile. This smallest one was occasionally carried by one of the others, probably her mother.

   
  Arif Setiwan aka Wawan in Edinburgh, Scotland
where he reported his findings at the International
Primatological Society Congress in August of 2008.
(Photo by Noel Rowe
Other primates found along  the Baai river included an Orangutan, seven groups of Bekantan, three groups of Beruk and nine groups of Warek. Eleven orangutan nesting sites, both old and new, were also observed. We tried to find other groups of Berangat, but unfortunately, we did not find any. This group is probably isolated by oil palm plantation, too sad.

The last days of the survey, we headed to the mountains of Beriun approx 95 km a by 4X4 car. This area belongs to logging company, where there is small patch of forest between karst mountains, in a valley that still has high trees and thick vegetation. We walked a 2.75 km transect that already existed, but did not find any leaf monkeys. In total we found only two orangutans each carrying her baby and we heard four groups of gibbons calling. Logging activities are continuing everywhere. We heard many roaring chain saws from both legal and illegal loggers. We interviewed a few of the loggers, but they hadn’t heard or seen Berangat in this forest.

Hunting for pets is also still happening among the local people. We observed an orangutan, a gibbon, a macaque and a Kukang in the wooden cage. Massive land conversion for oil palm plantation, forest production (acacia and gmelina), hunting, legal and illegal logging are the major threats for the primates in this area especially for the rarest Berangat (Presbytis hosei).

   
Muller’s gibbon photographed in a village
as a “pet” by Arif Setiwan during his survey.

 

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