Camp was a little busier than usual at the start of April. We welcomed more than 25 high school students and their teachers to the Sabangau Forest for three days. This was a special visit as the students were from two schools: a local school in Palangka Raya (the nearest town to the Sabangau Forest) and Cleveland District High School in Brisbane, Australia.
|Students and teachers from SMA Palangka Raya and Cleveland District High School. Photo by Tony Allison/OuTrop|
The purpose of the trip was for the students to immerse themselves in Borneo’s unique biodiversity and to experience conservation first-hand. The students all got stuck into a range of activities (as well as the swamp!). Working with our local partners, CIMTROP, we prepared a diverse programme so they could gain an understanding of our research and conservation projects. The students also had the opportunity to discuss and learn about the challenges we face trying to conserve Sabangau.
Our hope; to inspire local and international children to want to conserve wildlife and protect Borneo’s remaining forests. Engaging with local schools is key in achieving this mission. For the local students this was their first visit to Sabangau and some of the children did not know that there were orangutans here! Surprising, since it is home to the world’s largest population. It highlights just how important it is to education local school children about the amazing wildlife that lives on their doorstep. We are excited for this challenge!
It was a wonderful experience for everyone involved. The energy, enthusiasm and effort from the students made the job easy and we were particularly pleased to see the students share their experiences, interests and cultures with each other.
|Sharing cultures: the Cleveland students brought boomerangs for the local children to learn about Aboriginal culture. Photo by Tony Allison/OuTrop|
But don’t just take our word for it! Here, two of the students share stories of their time in Sabangau.
Altria Mardiana Putri (SMA High School, Palangka Raya, Indonesian Borneo)
This is the first time for me and my friends to visit the Sabangau peat-swamp forest, although we live in Palangka Raya. We feel very happy and proud because we visit for the first time with students and teachers from Cleveland District High School in Brisbane. We were excited to learn about the forest together with the help of the kind staff from CIMTROP and OuTrop.
On the first day, we climbed up the forest tower (35m high). We needed a lot of energy just to finish the walk through the forest to get there! You have to be very careful because the boardwalks can be slippery and you can fall down if you’re not careful! After we tackled the boards, we then had to walk through the peat swamp, which wasn’t easy as my legs always got stuck! But we didn’t give up and it was an unforgettable experience.
|Trekking through the peat-swamp forest. Photo by Tony Allison/OuTrop|
We made it to the tower and then we climbed to the top, it was fantastic! My tiredness disappeared because all we could see was a beautiful and amazing view of the forest.
|Fantastic view over the Sabangau Forest. Photo by Chris Gauthier/OuTrop|
We also learnt about reforestation, Borneo’s biodiversity, camera trapping and butterfly surveys. What a great experience!
Simone Van Vuuren (Cleveland District High School, Brisbane, Australia)
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit Sabangau Forest and participate in the activities lead by CIMTROP and OuTrop. The activities were all educational and taught us about what is really happening with rainforests in Borneo.
|Planting for the future: SMA Palangka Raya student plants a tree for our reforestation project. Photo by Tony Allison/OuTrop|
The PhD students, interns, volunteers and staff were inspiring and motivational. Their knowledge and passion for conservation had a great impact on my now improved view of the environment and all things that surround it.
Their knowledge about the environment, the animals and conservation struck a chord with me and has inspired me to go down the track of conservation and to be as knowledgeable about all sorts of different species and the overall environment.
I loved the sense of community at base camp. I felt welcome as soon as I arrived. Everybody was so supportive, understanding and easy to get along with. Although most of us spoke a different language, had a different accent and came from different parts of the world we all got along like family. Everything and everybody worked coherently.
|Learning all about our projects. Photo by Tony Allison/OuTrop|
I loved seeing primates! It was so amazing seeing them in their natural habitat and not in a cage. I saw gibbons singing and playing in the trees right above my head! I will always remember the sound of the gibbons singing.
This experience has provided me with a lifetime of memories and knowledge that I will never forget. It opened my mind to the endless possibilities that comes along with studying conservation, and I admire the passion that surrounded the project.
|Creating memories for life! Photo by Simone Van Vuuren/OuTrop|