The Magic of the Forest (Pre-Orangutan)

Volunteer Blog

by Danay C. Downing

As I step into the forest, an overwhelming sense of excitement runs through me.  I smell the fresh, crisp air, and I see green – green leaves, green plants, green trees – so much Green – so much taken for granted in other parts of the world.  But here, it is special.  Here lies biodiversity like no other.  Here is the Sebangau Forest in all its glory – just waiting to be discovered, just waiting to be treasured.

“I smell the fresh, crisp air, and I see green – green leaves, green plants, green trees – so much Green – so much taken for granted in other parts of the world.  But here, it is special.  Here lies biodiversity like no other”

I step forward slowly, softly, yet intently, as I want to go deeper – I want to see more.  The leaves rustle beneath my feet.  The peat sinks down a bit, as my weight pushes it downward.  Insects surround me; Cicadas sing to me.  Butterflies encircle me, and mosquitoes and flies taunt me.  Dragonflies mesmerize me – and I feel a sudden sense of calm – an unexpected sense of belonging – almost as if this forest is welcoming me – a stranger with good intentions – a visitor in awe.

Waiting to see the iconic ape, orangutan, swinging between the trees in the Sebangau Forest
Photo by Borneo Nature Foundation | CIMTROP

Random birds fly around me,  just going about their lives in the forest.  Insects forage, flies swarm, and I hear chirps and squeaks and sounds unique to me.  I look around hoping to see something larger – a civet maybe or a pangolin, a monitor lizard, or a wild boar.  I pray to see movement in the trees – I beg to see a primate, and I am desperate to see an orangutan!

Alas not today, not now…but soon, perhaps tomorrow,  my dream will come true.  I will see the red in the trees – the graceful movement – the majestic presence of the one and only orangutan.  I can only imagine the emotion I will feel.  I have worked with so many behind bars, I’ve loved so many stuck inside enclosures, I’ve played with so many forced to live in our human structures – but to see one in the wild – to see one in the trees – free and wild and living as they are supposed to be, how they were made to be – will be one of the greatest moments of my life.

I will most certainly shed tears of joy and disbelief, because no matter how great a home we give them in our world – nothing will ever compare to the forest.  And, to see an orangutan moving throughout the forest – with choice and freedom and opportunity – will be the brightest, most eye-opening experience.  I can only pray this happens soon, but even more so, I pray the orangutans will continue to have their homes – to have their natural forest lives and to thrive in this forest I’ve now been allowed to share a part of – – – for the man of the forest is nothing without the forest, and the forest is little without the incredible orangutan.

      “…to see an orangutan moving throughout the forest – with choice and freedom and opportunity – will be the brightest, most eye-opening experience”

This is where Borneo Nature Foundation comes in…the hard work, the dedication, the learning, the lifestyle, and the entire team – will surely do everything possible to ensure this forest remains healthy.  It will be an honor to have even a small hand in helping with this important mission.  Over the next month, I will do my part and give what I have – and with any luck, and as a reward, I will see my first wild orangutan!

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