Our latest training sessions for staff from BBKSDA on wildlife monitoring methods were held in August, October and November 2016 in the town of Ruteng, central Flores, and the nature reserve of Wae Wuul and Riung. Training included lectures in wildlife monitoring theory, use of dedicated software for data collection and field sessions on monitoring Komodo dragons and main prey ungulate species.
As for 2015, lectures provided background knowledge on ecological methods for assessing animal population abundance and density based mainly on camera trapping and faecal counts on sample plots. The use of drones for wildlife surveys was introduced to rangers and BBKSDA technical staff.
The course was based on lectures and teaching material in Indonesian prepared by member of staff of the NGO Komodo Survival Program. Each lecture was open to discussion and allowed trainees to ask questions on specific topics and procedures. Lectures were attended by a class of 20 trainees from BBKSDA (five technicians and 15 rangers). Teaching material included: 1) introduction to wildlife population abundance estimate techniques with particular reference to camera trapping to detect presence/absence of animals and provide estimates on proportion of natural habitats occupied by Komodo dragons, 2) population trend estimates of deer based on pellet counts on linear transects, 3) data download from camera traps and data analysis, 4) use of dedicated software for data analysis.
Rangers and technicians participated in field sessions on Komodo dragon and ungulate monitoring. During field work members of BBKSDA and the local community were trained in the use of camera traps. Field sessions also included design of line transects to count faecal pellet groups on sample plots to assess presence/absence of main prey species of Komodo dragons. Briefings and debriefings were given each day to prepare trainees and gather comments and observations for improving logistics and field schedules. Training of BBKSDA staff was also devoted to practicals on environmental data recording and the use of a drone for aerial surveys. Main environmental parameters were recorded using data loggers set up at the Wae Wuul sentry post. Data loggers (Onset Corporation) were used for training sessions on temperature and relative humidity recordings. Training sessions included download of raw data and interpretation of results.
Heads of staff and BBKSDA personnel gained experience in the use of drone technology for aerial survey of wildlife and habitat status. The use of drones was tested in Ruteng and on the coastal area of northern Flores, near the Riung nature reserve. Trainees were particularly interested in understanding the setup of camera trap devices in the field and data downloading, and considered drone-based survey extremely useful to assess habitat quality, degree of habitat encroachment, as well as identify suitable areas for setting up camera traps. In 2016, we also produced a technical field guide for BBKSDA staff on wildlife monitoring techniques.