Birder's Guide

MAY 2017

Birder's Guide is the American Birding Association's newest publication. Each issue focuses on a key subject, providing tips from experienced birders on a wide variety of topics like Travel, Listing & Taxonomy, Gear, and Conservation & Community.

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27 May 2017 | Birder's Guide to Conservation & Community maintain healthy populations. Although commercial logging and oil palm gener- ate a higher amount of immediate rev- enue, Deramakot has been in the black since 2002, and in 2015, Deramakot's profit was the highest ever at nearly $1.7 million. This came mostly from tim - ber sales (sustainably produced lumber fetches a "green" premium because of its desirable production practices). In 2015, Deramakot also welcomed its highest number of visitors (392), who contrib - uted to the profit—visitors like us. My last full day at Deramakot, I sit in the leaf litter watching the leeches inch towards my ankles. White-bellied Woodpeckers knock thunderously on a giant snag downslope, and long-tailed Asian Paradise-Flycatchers float wraith - like around my head. I remain, kept by a feeling the morning still has some- thing to deliver. In the distance, a Blue- headed Pitta, another Bornean endemic, whistles. I whistle back; it draws closer. The pitta and I play its game for about a half hour, and then it falls silent. My attention is wavering when suddenly, in front of me, a glowing cobalt and russet chunk—an iridescent Easter egg with legs—bounces across the road. I capture it in my binoculars for a second before it disappears into the gloom. Satisfied with the morning, satisfied with Deramakot, I take my leave. The sun is higher, the cicadas crescendoing over the bird song, my stomach is rumbling. I walk out on the old logging road, created by the Sabah Forestry Department when they logged this area more than ten years ago. Then, the road created profit; now, its existence made it possible for me to see a Blue-headed Pitta. Because of the management plan that permitted its construction, Deramakot has become a refuge for the forest-dwelling wildlife that throughout Sabah is unduly pres- sured by unsustainable land use. Because of Deramakot's success, the Sabah Forestry Department is looking to certify more of its commercial for- ests under the same Forest Stewardship Council guidelines. Of Sabah's remain- ing tropical forests, 85% allow some form of logging, and only 3% of these forests are protected through intact preserves like Danum. Researchers have stated that, alone, this diminutive amount of unlogged forest is not enough to support viable populations of Sabah's most emblematic wildlife. However, be- cause of Deramakot's success, the Sabah Forestry Department has begun mod- eling more of their commercial forests with a sustainable multi-use approach. Now, nearly 45% of these are being managed similarly to Deramakot. If the charismatic Southeast Asian species like n All eight hornbill species found in Borneo thrive at Deramakot. These are Rhinoceros Hornbills. Photo © Jay Packer Access Deramakot Forest Reserve is remote. Getting there requires a rugged journey deep into the heart of Sabah. Its mammal-watching opportunities are unparal- leled in Malaysian Borneo, and this is the premier site to see clouded leopard, anywhere. Birding at Deramakot is also rewarding; the same cadre of species sought at Danum Valley can be found here. Accommodations are comfortable, though not luxurious. (Each room has air-conditioning and a bathroom.) To visit, it is essential you have a guide, driver, and 4X4 vehicle; for this, I highly rec- ommend Adventure Alternative Borneo (adventurealternative.com/borneo). Its staff is skilled, personable, and accommodating. To maximize the chances of connecting with your target species, I recommend a stay of at least four nights. Your time will be divided between walking roads and trails, boat trips on the Kinabatangan River, and night drives. orangutans, pygmy elephants, and more are to survive anywhere in the world, they have a fighting chance in Sabah, where the idea of well-managed forests like Deramakot is gaining traction.

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