Fieldwork Journal: Back to Basics

by AMNH on

From the Field posts

Mary Blair, assistant director for research and strategic planning at the Museum’s Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, is blogging from the field during her spring expedition to Vietnam. 

We are now surveying for lorises in another protected area in Vietnam, Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserve. Our home while surveying here is the Rang Rang ranger station.

Rang Rang Ranger Station
We are staying at the Rang Rang Ranger Station while surveying in Vietnam's Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserve. Rang Rang means “dry dry” in Vietnamese.
Mary Blair

It is an absolute pleasure to stay here, with very comfortable sleeping arrangements (lots of hammocks and bunk beds) and several bathrooms with Western-style toilets and running water (yes!!!). That is truly a luxury in terms of fieldwork conditions.


Color photo of a sunny white room with wooden bunk beds, and a hammock, and a window at the Rang Rang ranger station in Vietnam.
We are enjoying comfortable sleeping arrangements at Rang Rang Ranger Station. 
Mary Blair

There is no electricity, however, so during the day we charge our equipment with small solar panels. 

When the sun sets, we head out to survey for lorises. So far, our team has spotted several pygmy lorises in this area. We see them most often in interweaving vines or clusters of small branches (as you can see in the photo below). It is easier for them to grasp these small branches and vines to move around.

Pygmy loris lies beneath a nest of branches.
Pygmy slow loris (Nycticebus pygmaeus) spotted at night in Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserve.
© T. Mai Hoàng


In addition, we are seeing lots of other nocturnal animals: civets, owls, flycatchers, giant flying squirrels, and colugos.

Oriental Bay Owl in Vietnam
We saw this Oriental Bay Owl (Phodilus badius) during our night survey in Vietnam's Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserve.
Mary Blair

We are also hearing (and smelling) lots of gaur, the world’s largest living wild bovines.

Gaur (Bos gaurus) have been interrupting our surveys with loud guttural moans—imagine a cow mooing, but about an octave lower and much raspier—and also making themselves known with a tell-tale musky scent. Gaur are generally ill-tempered, so when they’re in the area, we try to stay out of their way.


Training Students and Rangers
Nguyễn Văn Thành, a graduate student from Hanoi University of Science, Mr. Công, a ranger, and Mr. Ngọc, second-in-command of the Rang Rang ranger station in Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserve, photographed before a night survey.
Mary Blair

During our surveys, we are also training students, rangers, and local community members to use special equipment, including different kinds of headlamps and digital data forms created by our team to collect survey data on cellular phones. The completed forms can be sent back to a server via a cellular network or wifi and, together with standardized training, will make long-term coordination across many teams and sites much easier, in addition to supporting the development of local capacity for biodiversity conservation. 

Working with partners around the globe, the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation (CBC) transforms knowledge—from diverse sources and perspectives—into conservation action. By developing professional, institutional, and community capacity for conservation, and convening and connecting key actors, the CBC fosters the ongoing discovery, awareness, and conservation of life on this planet.