Borneo: the innate beauty of the emerald jungle

Intern Blog

Jack Poole –
BNF Gibbon Behaviour Project Intern

Hi, I’m Jack a 23-year-old University College London graduate and this year’s lucky Gibbon Behaviour Project Intern with Borneo Nature Foundation. I have a broad background through my degree, but my interests have always lain within wildlife conservation and the environment. This stems from a long-running obsession with David Attenborough and his wildlife documentaries. Outside of science, I can be found indulging myself within my other long-running obsessions: the magical world of Harry Potter, and catching Pokémon.

Having been to Asia two times before and had very different experiences, I was unsure as to what I should expect. I first saw the Bornean rainforest from the air, whilst soaring through the largest, most pristine white and fluffy clouds I have ever seen. I knew that there would be a vast array of green across the ground, with pockets burnt or destroyed, but I was still amazed at the verdant fertile-looking green landscape, much darker and fuller in colour than what I’d seen back home in the UK within temperate deciduous and coniferous forest. I am certain that the aerial view I had will stay with me forever.

White-bearded gibbons. Photo by Bron/BNF

I also must add that as a very tall, very pale and very ginger British person, I am pleasantly surprised that I am yet to turn the colour of a sun-dried tomato and that I am mildly coping with the heat, just not the mosquitoes. I was also gifted upon my arrival to the Sabanagu Forest camp with a sighting of both my first orangutan and my first gibbon within ten minutes of my arrival. Additionally, I also saw the harder to find kelasi (red langur monkey) within 24 hours. Despite my sightings, my initial thoughts on camp and physically being within the rainforest was that of an oxymoron; the forest is cacophony of constant noise, yet simultaneously so serene and tranquil, at peace and waiting to be explored.

I have also relished in trying the plethora of vegetarian-friendly food available within Indonesian cuisine, particularly tempe and sambal. The latter is a very hot and spicy sauce, which is the best thing since sliced bread and makes plain rice more enjoyable. I am enjoying bombarding the long-term staff with lots of questions to maximise optimal primate knowledge gains. Thus far I have been pleasantly surprised with the whole experience, which is so far out of my comfort zone. I thoroughly recommend, on the basis that words cannot accurately describe the innate beauty that the emerald jungle beholds, that you get over here whilst you still can, whilst the orangutans and gibbons swing and sway through the trees.