Welcome to the Marine Mammal and wildlife Research and Community Development Expedition blog where you can keep up to date with all the happenings and information from Kenya

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Power saws and Pouched rats

Today we ventured deep in to Shimoni East forest, to transect 5, to undertake bird point counts - we identified three red-capped robin chats foraging close together in the leaf litter, a silvery-cheeked hornbill flying overhead and a sun bird that was to0 quick through the vegetation to allow us to identify which species. Numerous other bird songs could be heard but the birds remained elusive through the dense vegetation.

However the peace of the forest morning was shattered by the revving of a power saw overshadowing the birdsong about 100m from us. Within 10 minutes the crashing sound of a tree falling through the undergrowth came, followed by chattering and laughter of people and distress calls from nearby Syke's monkeys. And so once again Shimoni witnesses the loss of more critical coastal forest habitat to illegal and unregulated forest resource exploitation.

About 20 minutes later we recorded two adult Angolan black and white colobus travelling above us through the canopy of one of the tree species targetted by loggers. Their presence at the end of transect 5, close to the edge of the forest where the mangroves begin, is not often seen. It is sad to think that they are still vulnerable to habitat destruction so deep in the forest.

On a happier note, we did manage to catch a gecko on our way through, which appears to be the flat-headed gecko Hemidactylus platycephalus. The real highlight however was the first capture in the small mammal traps we are trialling on transect 1. On trapping day 2, we have been rewarded with our first rodent capture - the giant pouched rat. It looks to be a Cricetomys emini, a different species to the ones I am used to from Tanzania, so particularly exciting for me. We clipped a small patch of her fur to see if we get her returning to the traps over this week.