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Written by Yohanes Prahara, BNF’s Content Creator and Media Liaison
The morning air was still cold, heavy rain had just flushed through the Sebangau Peat Forest Nature Laboratory (LAHG) camp. The birds began to sound melodious accompanied by the sound of gibbons singing in the distance. The sound of water droplets from leaves falling on the tin roof becomes the soothing sound of the morning. Not long after, the voice that was eagerly awaited by everyone at the camp called out.
“The food is ready, let’s eat while it’s still warm,” shouted Listio from the front of the kitchen door.
Listio, also known as Lis, is a middle-aged man from Binuang, South Kalimantan who is a cook at Camp LAHG Sebangau, a camp managed by the CIMTROP LLG Technical Implementation Unit (UPT) of Palangka Raya University. Lis has been a cook at the camp for a dozen years and has witnessed the development and history of the camp.
His calm language smiles, and friendly manner was always etched in the minds of anyone who came to visit the camp. And, anyone who has visited the camp certainly can’t forget Lis’s delicious and memorable dishes, which he made with Ms. Yanti and Ms. Jariah, two other staff at Camp LAHG Sebangau.
Everyday cooking starts at 04:00 in the morning, and in a day, Lis cooks three meals with changing menus and often makes snacks for the afternoon. The main principle is that everyone should be happy and should not go hungry.
For most people, working in the forest is tough, full of limitations, and away from the hustle and bustle of the city. With Lis’s decision to work at the camp, he felt very happy and peaceful while working in the forest and away from the city.
“I never feel lonely, even though I often stay alone at the camp when the field staff are on leave. I have a lot of things that I can do in this camp and that makes me happy,” said Lis when met last weekend at Camp LAHG.
While pouring organic fertilizer from goat manure in the polybag where the strawberries are planted, Lis said, to spend his time living in a camp surrounded by wilderness, he planted various flowers and fruit in pots or polybags. He bought the seeds himself from personal money and from his friends when they visited the camp.
“My friend gave me this roselle seed, and I usually buy fertilizer and fertile soil myself. If the camp has lots of flowers and fruits, it will look beautiful and everyone will be happy,” he said while showing his roselle plant.
According to Lis, working as a cook at Camp LAHG made him learn a lot about the meaning of conservation. He has gained knowledge about habitats, peat, and animals that inhabit the Sebangau forest from the visiting researchers. He knows how important it is to conserve habitat and biodiversity in Sebangau.
“I can learn about gibbons, orangutans, bears, and snakes from the chatter and stories of my fellow researchers. It turns out that if this forest burns down or is destroyed by humans then all the animals will also disappear. It will be very regrettable, that our children and grandchildren will only be able to know the animals from stories or books,” he said while swinging in his purple hammock in the corner of the dining room.
Lis added, LAHG is a location for research on animals, habitats and peat swamp forests. The diverse flora and fauna made LAHG have important values to be preserved. “This area must be maintained, not destroyed or damaged. Hopefully, it won’t become a tourist area, if lots of people come, the animals will be scared and eliminated. The spirit of conservation that already exists will also slowly fade away,” he added.
Before the Covid 19 pandemic, he often participated in every expedition conducted by CIMTROP and BNF in research and survey activities in the forest. This gave him emotional experiences and knowledge about forests in Central Kalimantan.
During his spare time, Lis makes organic fertilizer from eggshells and fruit skins, which he uses to fertilize plants at the camp. Sometimes they also make pots anything from unused boots to damaged bathtubs.
“Simon (Simon Husson, Executive Director of the Borneo Nature Foundation International) was once surprised when I used the bathtub as a planting medium, but I laughed and said that it was broken. It is a shame if used goods are just thrown away even though we can still use them,” he said with a laugh.
Lis also said that he would continue to work for the camp and work as long as he was still strong and needed by CIMPTROP and BNF, he still wants to make people happy.
“I just want to make everyone feel good, it already makes me happy and peaceful. That’s what makes me feel at home working here, the important thing is that everything I do can please all my friends. If people are happy, it will definitely bring happiness to others around them,” he said while frying bananas for snacks in the afternoon.
Lis hopes that friends will help him in providing fertile soil and fertilizer so that the fruit and vegetable plants will develop properly and the camp will be more beautiful, whilst, CIMTROP and BNF are still maintaining the habitat and everything in the Sebangau LAHG.
“Merry Christmas 2020 and Happy New Year 2021 to the big families of CIMTROP and BNF, hopefully, they will be more blessed by God and remain consistent in maintaining the Sebangau LAHG,” he concluded while decorating a Christmas tree from used coffee wrappers.