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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Tidak ada, Tuan

"Tidak ada, Tuan." That's Bahasa Indonesia for "There was nothing, Sir". In context, it meant, "No luck today" or "Not a damn thing".

Those were the words of Jaffa, the empty-handed eel fisherman as he passed our riverside camp in northern Sulawesi. He laughed cheerfully about his bad luck. The joke was on him. (May he still ply the waters with good cheer and better luck.)

It was a "Tidak ada" day when I checked the cam at the snag with possibilities. There were 70 pictures, and nearly all of them were dim images of deer mice putzing about in the bottom of the snag. I didn't laugh at my bad luck, but I was grateful that the camera set worked.

The good news was that there were three fuzzy images of what appeared to be a wood rat and a spotted skunk. They were obviously squeezing past the camera when it fired.

The peanut butter had barely been touched. I need to think about another bait, and a better way to secure the camera in place -- like lag bolts and wire. Next time.

I cranked up the flash power, and adjusted the camera's position. I'll let it run another week.

I do have some of Jaffa's patience, but I haven't reached the point where I see the humor in going home empty handed.


DDeden said...

hehe, just surprised, tidak ada = got none , in Malay as well, it was also the title of my latest blog post, which I changed due to some confusion among readers.

Are you in CA or Sulawesi now?

I appreciate your camera trapping.

I've been reading some anti-green preachings by a women industrial forester who dislikes old growth forests, she wants forests looking like cornfields full of new growth to be harvested, get rid of all the rotting old wood "firetraps". It's weird, because it's in a scuba and free diving net group, she is a diver, she talks about sea otters and dolphins like they are angels, but in talking about the woods, she couldn't give a damn about the forest critters homes, it's all about the money, cutting and planting, fast rotations.

btw, did you ever see babirusa at Sulawesi in the brine swamps? I just wonder if they do much swimming. Do they sort of fit the tapir or capybara niche?
DDeden (Dave/Daud/DD)

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my aquamarine research blog

my int'l malay coffee blog
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Camera Trap Codger said...

Hey Dude, Sulawesi is many years behind me, but that woman forester sounds scary. A little Skinnerian conditioning a la Clockwork Orange might do a world of good for her.

I am not sure how well babirusas swim, but I suspect they can and do, but I'd be surprised if they could match a tapir. I wrote a paper on eye color polymorphism in babirusas. Their peepers range from gray blue to dark brown. Just like Asian elephants thay way. Charming and unusual pigs.

DDeden said...

Yeah, agreed on the conditioning. I'm a retired forester myself, and don't much care for her single minded approach.

The eye color variance sounds very interesting to me, I've been researching it in humans, as well as the well exposed white eye sclerae in humans and apaloosas. Is your paper on the internet? Any chance my blue-green eyes could take a look see?

Camera Trap Codger said...

Here's the citation:

Wemmer, C. and Watling, D. 1982. Eye color polymorphism in the babirusa pig. Malayan Nature Journal, 36:135-136.

UMn libraries will have the journal. I probably have a copy of it in the garage, but it is lost in the boxes there.

DDeden said...

Thanks, just remembered to check back.
I'm still thinking about the hand axe bait trap idea. Yale Univ. is digging some coastal paleo sites in Arabia for fossils, wonder if they'll find any axes.
I figure if I'm right, they were modeled after bilaterally symmetrical clams, that's why the "axes" were bifaced. I don't know how much brainpower they had back 2 million years ago, but all that needed to happen was a smart witness seeing a hungry dog or cat choking on an aromatic mollusc, and then sprinkling the beach with dug-up clams or dead fish with clams tucked inside.
heluva concept anyways.

Camera Trap Codger said...

I've got to see a picture of those bifacials. No doubt their makers were clever people. Is there a URL I should check?

DDeden said...

This site, under Acheulian, photo on the left has a few, click the pic to enlarge. The early ones were rough, later ones were thinner and sharper.

I could be wrong, but using one as a cat/croc/gator bait trap seems more likely than throwing it like a discus or frisbee or just discarding it after removing the outside flakes, as some others have proposed.

If you google-image "hand axe", you'll see pictures of other styles, some chunky, some round. The really big ones may have been for big old crocs or even sharks (inside dead seal pups?).

They are now saying that the big cave bears of Europe were more carnivorous, eating mammoth and fish, probably salmon. Before it was thought they were just berry eaters (which made no sense to me.) I wonder if any "axes" have been found with the bear skeletons in caves.