Language: English with bilingual abstract in English and Indonesian
Similajau National Park, near Bintulu, Sarawak, was gazetted in 1979 on account of its breeding turtles. It has never been surveyed comprehensively. From 6 August – 16 September 1986 a joint University of Carnbridge/National Parks and Wildlife Ofﬁce of the Sarawak Forest Department team visited the Park, the primary aim being to compile an inventory of the birds. The Park is a 71 km2 band of rainforest adjoining the coast. Most of the vegetation is Mixed Dipterocarp Forest, at an altitude of up to 113 m, and attention was concentrated on this forest type, with observations up to 105 m. Large areas, especially adjacent to the coast, are on rather unproductive, sandy soil and approach kerangas in character, though little true kerangas pole forest was found. Smaller amounts of time were also spent in the smaller areas of secondary growth, swamp-forest (both tidal and non-tidal) and mangroves. Recording relied mainly on opportunistic ﬁeld observation, observers working independently and being free to go wherever seemed best for birds at that time. Some mist-netting was also performed. All birds detected were counted and notes taken on habitat use. Mammals were also recorded. A total of 35 hours were spent at night searching with torches to detect noctumal species.
In six weeks 187 bird and 29 mammal species were identiﬁed. The bird community was fairly typical of coastal dipterocarp forest, including such local species as Bomean Wren-Babbler Ptilocichla leucograrnmica and both the kerangas specialists White-throated Babbler Malacopteron albogulare and Hook-billed Bulbul Setornis criniger. Six of the eight Bomean hombills were found, but only Black Hombill Anthracoceros malayanus and Wrinkled Hombill Rhyticeros corrugatus were regularly seen and even they seemed to be present at low densities. One species in the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book was seen: one Stonn’s Stork Ciconia stormi ﬂew over, while a further four candidate species for inclusion were found, with a few records of Rhinoceros Hornbill Buceros rhinoceros and Black Wood Partridge Melanoperdix nigra, and regular records of Wrinkled Hombill and Bomean Bristlehead Pityriasis gymnocephala. Aside from the six hornbill species, the other state-protected birds found were White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster and Great Argus Argusianus argus (both common) and Bridled Tem Stema anaethetus (only offshore).
Mammals too seemed present at low densities but the protected Bomean Gibbon Hylobates muelleri appeared common and widespread. However, there was direct evidence such as hunters’ camps, trails and animal skulls, of the hunting pressure to which wildlife is exposed. Additionally, the Park has recently been opened up to visitors; it may become a major recreation area for Bintulu. Both forms of human pressure, if leading to uncontrolled disturbance, may be damaging to the wildlife importance of the Park; poaching should be eliminated and visitors controlled as at Bako (another Sarawak National Park, well equipped to deal with tourists). The most important priority is the development of a Management Plan for Similajau, which should stress the necessity of the following:
1) Stationing of Forest Guards at the mouths of the two main rivers to combat poaching, both within the forest and of turtle nests.
2) Erection of signs at regular intervals along the beach and rivers informing people that the area is protected and that all hunting is prohibited.
3) A comprehensive turtle survey of the beaches.
4) Formulation and implementation of a plan controlling tourist access and associated development, particularly trail systems, of which at present there is none.
5) Management of the surrounding 1203 km2 Forest Reserve in a way sympathetic to larger birds and mammals (particularly hornbills) which the Park is unlikely to support on its own.
6) Assessment of whether the Park is large enough to support viable populations of Bomean Gibbons, Wrinkled Hombills and Bomean Bristleheads; these are all vulnerable species on a world scale. In addition, further study is needed on the habitat requirements of Bomean Bristlehead: Similajau is an ideal place for this as distribution appears to be patchy across the Park, allowing habitat comparison between occupied and unoccupied areas.
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