Friday, May 2, 2008

FIRST LESSON: SMALL MAMMALS STUDY

Photo: The first time set up traps in plantation
Photo: Working hard collect all the traps after finish our trapping
Photo: First time doing small mammals skinning
 The first lesson that I learn when I join the company is doing small mammal inventory. Wow! How it will be look like? What will I do? There was one group from UTAR, KL coming over to do that study in our plantation areas. They are all Chinese girls and all are town girl with their lecturer, lucky a guy. What I learn through this trip was:

1. Set up wire cage traps inside the remnant forest and plantations block.
2. Identified the small mammals to the species level.
3. Take measurements of the animals; TL, HB, T, Wt, Ear, HF and assessed the reproductive condition.
4. Euthanized the animals and doing the taxidermy process. Prepare the animals for museum specimen.
5. Taking tissue samples for DNA study and clean the skulls and skeletons.

Step 1-3 and 5 is not that difficult for me but the 4th step is very tricky. My hand is very shaky when I hold the blades to dissect the animals. Even though I have experienced dissecting rats when I am doing my final year project in UMS but I didn’t do it for the same purpose. This time I have to make sure that I didn’t spoilt the skin and makes sure that the fur is not fall off from the skin. It was a very tough job to be done by a rough lady like me. I didn’t do it very well because I even can’t finish with one animal. I pass it to my friend and I only observed them doing it. However, I learn a lot from this trip. Now I know what it is feel when doing the real research inside the forest. It is not an easy thing to do. Before trip, we have to prepare all of our equipments in the field and for lab work. Then prepare logistics such as accommodations, transportation and foods. Besides, we are dealing with outsider that we have to serve them well. I don’t have problem when working in the forest because I came from village and I already get used to it.

The main problem is I don’t know how to mix up with those Chinese town ladies with their fierce lecturer. I don’t know how to communicate with them because my English is very poor. I look down on my own ability and lack of confident as well. However, those ladies are very friendly and I really can make friends with them. Until today, one of them still contacts me. During that trip, their lecturer help me on edited my proposal that I write for applications of master degree. He gave me some ideas what to put in my proposal.

At the end of that trip, I can say that it was the first lesson that gives impact the most in my work until today. Why? Almost all small mammal study that I’ve done these past two years was adapted from what I’ve learn from this trip. Therefore, I want to thank Dr. Han from UTAR for willing to teach me even though my knowledge at that time is zero. I want to thanks his students as well for teach me how to do skinning, stuffing and setting the voucher specimens. It was a valuable experienced that I get from this first lesson.

I thank God as well for send over these guys to share their knowledge with me.
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