With some good news today, it seems like I will be heading back to the Perhentian Islands in 2016 to carry out further research on the terrestrial environment. This is pending a few important things; securing a research permit from the Economic Planning Unit of the Malaysian Government and securing funding, for a start. I intend to team up with Neil Hinds, of Blue Temple Conservation, who will be welcoming researchers to his HQ starting next year.
There are a vast number of options for my research on the islands, and it will take a while for me to come up with a final plan- and I’ll certainly need lots of advice from university faculty! I’m looking to go down an interdisciplinary path, as my current research interests involve the impact of development on the environment.
I’d be interested in measuring the abundance of Varanidae (Monitor Lizards, of which there are two species present) in certain areas- comparing their numbers at different distances from major resorts. I suspect that at a couple of sites, particularly in a landfill area, their abundance would actually increase close to the resorts. The number of Varanidae is very high on the islands due to a lack of predators, and thus the Perhentians offer a relatively unique opportunity to study their response and adaptations to human encroachment on their territory.
Other than that, it would be amazing to be able to use an IR-Converted camera on a drone in order to create an NDVI image of the Perhentians, hopefully displaying environmental degradation around resorts and also revealing where the last pristine refuges are the species on the islands. It is in these areas that I anticipate further species that are new to science to be found.
In any case, I’m delighted to be able to put Perhentian Research back on the calendar, and to have the opportunity to continue the work I started in 2014.