Dr Tigga Kingston

Assistant Professor

Malaysian Bat Conservation Research Unit

The Malaysian Bat Conservation Research Unit (MBCRU) was established in 2001 to promote the conservation of Malaysia’s unique bat fauna through long term conservation research, capacity building and environmental education.

 

The MBCRU is a collaboration among Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Texas Tech University (USA), Boston University (USA) and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Malaysia,  with major funding from The National Science Foundation (USA), National Geographic Society (USA) and Earthwatch Institute (USA).

 

Research focuses on the patterns and processes affecting diversity in insectivorous bat communities in undisturbed rainforest in Krau Wildlife Reserve:

 Five study sites across the reserve are sampled on a rotational basis using harp traps.

 The first four years of study generated over 18,000 captures of 42 species confined to the rainforest interior.

 Roosting ecology of four target species were studied by radio-tracking and 218 roosts located and described, and

Over 100 habitat plots have been completed as part of a landscape-level study of variability in forest structure.

 

Capacity building takes the form of student support, internships and workshops:

 3 local Masters students and 1 Ph.D. student fully sponsored, registered at UKM.

 Sponsored internships provided for students/young researchers from Indonesia, Myanmar, Sarawak, Peninsular Malaysia, the Philippines, India, France.

 MBCRU provides in-kind logistical support for foreign students, including 4 Ph.D. students, 2 Masters, and 4 undergraduates from the UK and USA.

 Three 4-day technical workshops Bat Identification and Survey Techniques held since 2002; totaling c. 40 participants from PERHILITAN and Malaysian Universities.

Technical materials developed include:

Key to the Bats of Peninsular Malaysia

Field Manual

Field Guide to the Bats of KWR

 

The education programme includes:

 200 baseline awareness interviews

 Poster and leaflets at KWR interpretive centres

 Workshops for Educators

 Workshop for Children

 Malaysian Bat Party Pack (for educators to run Children Workshop)

 School visit to SMK Kuala Krau

Live interactive satellite classroom link with US primary school.

 

Paying volunteers from Earthwatch Institute support the project both financially and with their labour. Over 90 volunteers from 25 countries have joined the project in the last two years, including 8 sponsored Fellows from Malaysia, providing international exposure for both the MBCRU and KWR.

 

Economically, the project contributes to the local economy through the employment  over 50 people on a seasonal basis in the past four years, from two indigenous tribes (Jah Hut and Che Wong) and several Malay villages surrounding the reserve. The presence of EWI teams also provides financial opportunities through catering, laundry, and taxi services to and from Kuala Lumpur.