Volunteer News

Running with the forest ups and downs!

Our volunteers have headed home after a fantastic seven weeks – we are pleased to tell more of their stories!

Stuck in the mud. Photo by Morena Vargo/OuTrop

“Hanna, Morena, Paul (three other volunteers) and I set off with Nick on our first walk in the forest. We had high hopes of seeing orangutans, gibbons, and sun bears. We walked along the boardwalk until we reached one of the forest transects, where we hopped down onto the ground. The track was boggy and full of many tripping hazards, mainly roots and lianas. Walking along I got stuck in the mud twice! After Paul had stopped laughing and Morena had taken pictures, Nick helped haul me out. We stopped for a break and had some snacks. Nick heard something in the bushes and headed off after it, returning shortly to get us. The chase was on! Kelasi were ahead and Nick turned to me and said (as if it was even a question), “If we want to stay with them we’re going to have to run.” I was right behind him and he was moving fast. Over logs and roots, in between trees, under vines and being careful not to get bogged again. I didn’t think I was very fit but when the adrenaline kicked in, I had no trouble keeping up. 

Searching for Kelasi – Photo by Bronwyn Eva/OuTrop

The sweat was pouring off us but we didn’t care. The glimpses of the red fur ahead kept us going. We were going after the male who was making a lot of noise, calling out to make sure we were following him. This is a technique the kelasi (red langur) use to keep the females and babies safe. The male runs in one direction, making a lot of noise and leading the danger away before slipping back to the group when it is safe. Nick of course was aware of this so after we had run about 300m we backtracked a short way and sat quietly. It wasn’t long before we heard the male call out and the group of 4 or 5 females crossed over the canopy close to our left. We were off again. There was another 300m sprint across the uneven terrain. Again we sat down. 
We had ended up in the middle of the group so it wasn’t long before the rest of the group came right overhead. It was amazing to see. We were so fortunate to see Kelasi on our first day! Some people in camp who have been here longer than us have still not seen them.”
Brooke Robertson, Group 2 Volunteer, 2012