BUKIT TERAJA SCIENTIFIC SURVEY

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A team of 12 scientists and 7 students from Universiti Brunei Darussalam recently conducted a scientific survey of Bukit Teraja in Ulu Belait. The three-day survey, held on 4th to 7th June 2014 was co-organised by the Institute for Biodiversity and Environmental Research (IBER), UBD and the Forestry Department, Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources (MIPR). The Teraja Scientific Survey is a precursor to a full expedition to Bukit Teraja, due to be held in 2014 as an initiative of the International Consortium of Universities on Biodiversity and Environment research, or iCUBE.

According to Professor Peter Ashton, a renowned tropical ecologist from Harvard University, Bukit Teraja is likely one of the most hyperdiverse forest in Borneo. Botanical collections by the Forestry Department have recorded a number of endemic floral species at Bukit Teraja, including Bruneian endemics. Bukit Teraja, currently a forest reserve under Brunei's Heart of Borneo Initiative, is composed almost entirely of Mixed Dipterocarp Forest with some Peatswamp Forest where the forest reserve borders the Ulu Mendaram Conservation Forest.

Led by Prof Dato Hj Mohamed and Assoc Prof Kushan Tennakoon, the Bukit Teraja survey focused on both the lower elevation areas close to Wasai Wong Kadir as well as the higher elevation areas abouve 300 m a.s.l. During the three-day survey, researchers documented flora and fauna of Bukit Teraja, as well as mapped possible trails for the full Bukit Teraja Expedition. Among the faunal biodiversity recorded were 11 amphibian species including two new records from the Teraja area, 4 reptile species, the "Brunei Beauty" (Betta macrostoma) as well as the argus pheasant, hornbills, leopard cat, and the common palm civet. Floral records include several Nepenthes species, the dipterocarp, Shorea parvifolia, as well as the Brunei endemics, Bosenbergia bruneiana and Livistonia exigua.