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We will explore, record, and map the sounds of one of the world’s most species-rich and rapidly vanishing forests.

Bornean rainforests: an incredibly diverse and poorly understood treasure.  The rainforests of Borneo are among the most species-rich habitats in the world.  Listening to the sounds of these forests is an incredible and overwhelming experience as gibbons, hornbills, tree frogs, cicadas, and hundreds of other species advertise their presence.  Our mission is to record and map these sounds while we still can. 

The forests of Borneo are under incredible human pressure.  The giant dipterocarp trees that form much of the canopy are extremely valuable timber for furniture and other uses worldwide, and logged-over native forests are increasingly being converted to tree plantation and oil palm as the world demand for pulp wood and palm oil increases. 

Mapping and recording sounds of the rainforest.  We begin this effort in pristine rainforest, where the ecosystem is still intact.  The sounds that we record and map will serve as important reference information for many rarely seen species inhabiting rainforest thickets and canopies.  The information we collect will inform us about animals in healthy rainforests, and will serve as an important starting point for understanding the role of animal communication in this ecosystem.  Recent research has shown that habitat alteration can dramatically influence an animal’s ability to communicate with others of its kind to find mates, warn others of predators, and maintain contact with young.  

The music of the forest.  Not only do the sounds of Bornean rainforests inform us about the animals living there, but the sounds are incredibly beautiful, bizarre, and even otherworldly.  We believe that the sounds have inherent aesthetic value that can be appreciated by both nature lovers and music lovers alike.

Specifics.  Our efforts will begin at Tawau Hills Park in Sabah, East Malaysia (Borneo).  Tawau Hills Park is a 30,000 ha reserve of rainforest in southeastern Sabah.  It is a rare remnant of old Bornean forest and home to the tallest tropical trees in the world: an ideal site for gathering information on species in a pristine habitat.  We have already recorded a series of sounds within the park; from the ground.  Our next effort is to sample the canopy.  With trees reaching heights of nearly 90 meters (that is nearly 300 feet!), the sounds from the canopy are certainly different from those we hear on the ground.  With a team of experienced climbers and recordists, we will ascend to the canopy at sites throughout the park to record.  Each canopy recording will be paired with a recording from the ground for comparison and mapped using a GPS unit and GIS.   Ultimately, we aim to produce a map of rainforest sounds that would be widely available in programs such as Google Earth and OpenLayers.  All of our work is conducted in collaboration with local scientists and conservationists in Borneo and our team will include people from the US and Malaysia.

Tangibles.  The sounds we record will be identified to the lowest taxonomic level possible and uploaded to borneanbirdconservation.org and other sound-sharing sites such as xeno-canto.org.  The information we collect will also be published in peer-reviewed scientific journals and presented at professional conferences and to the general public.

Our goal in making the sounds freely available online is to engage others with interests in the animals of the Bornean rainforests as well as the music that they make.  Much of the animal life in Borneo is poorly understood.  By encouraging information-sharing we hope to gain a better understanding of Bornean rainforest animals and how to conserve them.

Where your money will go.  Funds for this project will pay for equipment, travel, and living expenses for a month-long expedition to Tawau Hills Park, Sabah, East Malaysia (Borneo).    

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    We’ll put your name on our supporters list at borneanbirdconservation.org

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    Ten minutes in the rainforest. You will receive a download of ten consecutive minutes of sound recorded from the Bornean rainforest complete with descriptions of the prominent sounds in the recording.

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    9 backers

    Favorite Bornean rainforest sounds PLUS 10 minutes in the rainforest. A download of a selection of at least 10 sounds from 10 different Bornean rainforest species PLUS a recording of 10 consecutive minutes in the rainforest complete with descriptions.

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    Dawn in the rainforest. You will receive a download of a recording of a dawn chorus from the Bornean rainforest. The recording will span the minutes before dawn when night animals are making the last sounds of their day and will continue into the full dawn chorus in which dozens of species will be singing in any given minute. The best time to observe the diversity of the Bornean rainforest is in the minutes just before and just after dawn, and this is what you will hear. The download will include a description of the forest where the recording was made and prominent sounds in the recording.

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    You will receive a CD of the recordings described previous (10-minutes in the rainforest, favorite rainforest sounds, and dawn in the rainforest) and a personal letter of appreciation.

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    Your own virtual rainforest experience. You will receive a documentary of a recording location in the rainforest. The video will include images of the rainforest, the coordinates of the location, a description of the location, and the sounds that were recorded at that location. Each person paying this amount gets their own unique location. Limited supply.

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    Your own virtual canopy experience. Experience what it’s like to be 100 feet above the ground! You will receive a documentary of a recording location in the rainforest canopy. The video will include images of the rainforest, the coordinates of the location, a description of the location, and the sounds that were recorded at that location. Each person paying this amount gets their own unique canopy location. Limited supply.

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    All of the previously mentioned rewards PLUS a personalized certificate of appreciation and a statement of appreciation on borneanbirdconservation.org

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Funding period

- (60 days)