OuTrop appealed to me because the focus is not just on primates (orangutans, gibbons and red langurs), but there are a whole host of other research projects on a variety of species – fish, plants, big cats and butterflies – using a range of survey and camera trap techniques.
Not only this, but they also support locally-led conservation projects. The Sabangau Forest has been affected by illegal logging in the past and working with local partners CIMTROP, OuTrop have a nursery to grow new trees to help regenerate the area. There is a dedicated team to patrol the forest tackling forest fires and, to keep the swamp wet, they are damming the canals created by the illegal loggers to transport timber out of the forest. Essentially, all aspects of conservation are being considered to ensure the whole peat-swamp forest is protected, which in the long-term is a more holistic approach than trying to protect just one or two species.
Not forgetting…..I also get to live in Borneo for 6 months! Everyday life is very different from back home in England; not knowing what day of the week it is, hearing the sounds of the forest when you go to sleep and wake up (and often in the middle of the night too) and occasionally seeing wild orangutans within a few metres of where you live. Wild pigs and a large monitor lizard are daily sights in base camp. These are just a few of the perks of the internship.
|On the right track! A male orangutan visits base camp in the Sabangau Forest. Photo by Carolyn Thompson/OuTrop|
Over the next few months, apart from gaining knowledge and experience in field research, I hope to learn more about the other projects and surveys undertaken here, improve my Indonesian, learn a few traditional Indonesian recipes from our amazing chef Lis, and most importantly, try not to fall over so much in the forest. I’m told everyone falls over at the start, but it gets easier – although I may be the exception to that rule!