First time in Borneo: Exciting!

Volunteer Blog

Anisha with other volunteers

Helllo! I’m Anisha and I’m from India. I just graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Sociology, and Economics. Studying animal behaviour and environmental s sciences have always been interests of mine so when I heard about BNF, the work done here, and the fact that I may be able to conservation activities through the OuTrop Volunteer Programme , I was immediately drawn to it. It makes it even better that I get the opportunity to visit a new country, experience a completely different culture, learn things I previously had little to no knowledge about, and to simply co-exist with these beautiful creatures in their own environment.

Volunteers with Twenti, BNF’s Field Assistant in Sabangau Forest

The first week here has been quite an adventure in itself, beginning with a delayed flight to Palangka Raya, the introductory and orientation sessions, the boat and lori ride on the way to camp, the visit to the houses of the local staff at BNF on Idul Fitri, all the way to figuring out how to keep our balance on the boardwalk or our rather feeble tempts to ward off mosquitoes in the forest.  Of course, one cannot forget how heated, how Dobble matches can get nor, how fun the other games have been. Learning Bahasa Indonesia has also been really enjoyable and I am grateful to the co-ordinators for taking the time to teach us.

The peatland of Sabangau, or ‘Peaty’ as I like to call it, is everything I had heard about and so much more! As one cannot find any peat swamps where I come from, this terrain was completely foreign to me and took a while to get used to it. There is so much life in this forest you just don’t know where to look first. I would consider our group to be extremely fortunate to have been able to see the three main primates within the first two days a camp and it was such a magnificent sight to behold. The subsequent days mainly involved instructing us regarding safety within the forest, conducting butterfly surveys, setting up camera traps, plotting trees, and navigating through the forest using a GPS and compass, which were accompanied by  training period where we had a hands-on experience, which was essential to our  understanding of how research is carried out. It was also exciting to see all the nocturnal inhabitants of the forest shine at night, in their element.

Observing primates

The camp alone is such a wonderful place to stay at and it has been a pleasure to meet and get to know everyone, BNF staff and volunteers included. I know for sure that we would only get closer as the weeks pass by before we come to the end of the program, by which time I would have befriended many and have stories to narrate for a lifetime.

Most of all, it is satisfying to know that organisations like BNF exist that work towards reforestation and conservation of biodiversity and that I can actively take part in this collective effort to protect this sacred space that these beings call home.