Gibbon calls that replace Apple “Radar” alarm: experiencing Sabangau Peat-swamp Forest

Volunteer Blog

Written by Tom (BNF’s volunteer 2018)

To travel to camp we initially took a Klotok (longboat) along the Sebangau River to ‘The Post’. Walking onto the wooden outpost, we then took a cart along an old railway to camp. It was very similar to something out of Indiana Jones or Lara Croft. As the camp emerged amongst the trees, you were impressed by it.

I wasn’t expecting the station to be that expensive, it is like a mini-village in the middle of the rainforest. It even has its own badminton court. Following our arrival, we went for a tour around camp. I chose the bedroom near to the pond which is a spot frequented by the local monitor lizards. However, some parts of the forest are still evidently touched by human. Planes occasionally fly over head and some river litter is visible. It is just another reminder that our actions have far reaching consequences. Despite this, once we finished with the tour of camp we all went for lunch. I was not expecting all that much, but it was very delicious.

Biodiversity monitoring through butterfly and dragonfly surveys
Photo by Jennifer Brosseau | BNF | CIMTROP
After scoffing down a plate full of Indonesian food, it was time to meet the BNF Research Team. Their energy and enthusiasm is a bit overwhelming at first, but you could already look forward to working with them. One of my favourites so far is Santi, he is quite the character.

Following introductions, we had our first opportunity to enter the deep rainforest. Walking among the trees for an hour or two, one felt at peace listening to, and observing, the forest. In the evening we sat in the communal area and played card games. Given that we all shared a passion for conservation and the environment, the group really gelled which was a great bonus. Though I did get to sleep that night, having had a long and busy day, I woke up at 2:30am the next morning. I think I had too much excitement in my body to sleep. Though, this gave me the chance to hear the gibbons calling which I much prefer to the standard Apple ‘Radar’ alarm.

The second day at camp was equally as stimulating and busy. A highlight for me was seeing my first Orangutan. It was truly a magical experience seeing such a beautiful animal in the wild. It is one of those experiences where you have to experience it to understand it. Over the following days we took part in even more activities, ranging from; plot surveys, butterfly surveys, dragonfly and damselfly surveys, dam building, and litter picking. My first few days at BNF Sabangau have been incredible and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I can’t wait for what the rest of the volunteer programme has in store.