Photos by Md. Zulkifli
THE AMPHIBIANS OF BORNEO
Of the approximately 180 species now known from Borneo, 130 (or nearly three-quarters) are endemic to the island. Adding to the frog fauna are several species that are human commensals, and suspected to have arrived in the past century, mostly inadvertently with plants and other agricultural products, and one is an escapee from frog farms.
The most recent assessment of the world’s amphibians paints a bleak picture for the Bornean amphibian fauna. Of those whose conservation status has been assessed, 83 have been classified as threatened, representing nearly half the known amphibian fauna of the island. These figures are, of course, conservative estimates. These indicate insufficiency in current knowledge of Bornean frogs, and a need for further research on a diverse series of disciplines, from taxonomy and systematics, to ecology, ethology, and distribution.
The International Bornean Frog Race
The objectives of the Race, which is currently in the annual calendar of events of Tourism Malaysia, is to draw public attention to the region’s rich amphibian fauna, and at the same time, targeting children for special educational programmes on nature conservation and amphibian protection. The Race is celebrated on the last weekend of April, since 2012, and five editions have thus been held. The event coincides with the annual ‘Save the Frogs Day’ (www.savethefrogs.com/day), a global event celebrated via 270 events in over 30 countries worldwide, to highlight conservation issues facing the world’s amphibians. The Race is organised by the students and staff of the Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation (IBEC) of the Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) and the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), with the support of members from the Faculty of Resource Science and Technology, the Faculty of Applied and Creative Arts, the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia and the Sarawak Tourism Board. The event includes talks by local and foreign experts on amphibian biology and conservation, exhibition of frog-related memorabilia, workshops on frog photography and drawing and painting, both by leading experts in the region. The finale of the event is a photographic race, whereby participants race along a pre-designated forest trail, and try to photograph the most number of frogs species, the rarest frog, or photographically capture the most aesthetic image, via DSLR or compact camera, and using smartphones.
This will be the sixth year we are organizing this event, the first, in 2012, at Camp Permai, Santubong, in collaboration with the Permai Rainforest Resort, in 2013, 2014 and 2015, our event were held at Kubah National Park, in 2016 at Lambir Hills National Park, and we partnered with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation. The sixth edition of the International Bornean Frog Race will be held on 29 April 2017, at Gunung Gading National Park, Lundu, Sarawak, organised by the Institute of Biodiversity and Environmental Conservation, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) and the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC). The organising team comprises a standing committee comprising experts in the fields of amphibian biology, natural history and photography from the host institutions as well as volunteers from the world of science, photography and conservation. The Frog Race programme for 2017 will differ from those conducted in previous years in including a promotional Frog Race Run, a night-time marathon on UNIMAS Campus, that will be open to public. The Junior Programme associated with the Frog Race will be held over a period of two days, targetting primary and secondary school children from schools in Lundu, Sarawak. An exhibition of stamps depicting amphibians, will be organised in the campus of UNIMAS. Also held in the campus of UNIMAS will be an international symposium, dealing with the problems of amphibian conservation in the Indo-Pacific. Following the Race, will be a night-walk (open to the first 50 participants to register online) with frog scientists to the famous Kubah Frog Pond area of Kubah National Park.