A total of 30 people were living at the camp in the forest, supported by a dedicated team from Mungku Baru village. The international team included Indonesian and foreign university students, lecturers, research staff and the vital kitchen team who kept everyone well fed. We were living together in this very simple forest camp for a month from 12 July to 5 August 2016.
With very little known about this forest, every day brought new discoveries, whether it was finding a lake, or meeting one of the resident wild primates. Despite the primates not being used to humans, almost all the expedition team saw gibbons, orangutans or red langurs and we certainly heard the gibbons! Adul, BNF-OuTrop Programme Camera Trap Coordinator, showed the volunteers how he climbs trees to place camera traps in the canopy. As they all discovered, it is not as easy as Adul makes it seem!
The weather presented some challenges, raining so hard that the gibbons did not sing the following day while we were trying to survey them, and subsequently flooding the camp! Waking up to see fish swimming under your rice-sack bed was certainly a novelty.
Every day there were at least 5 teams of people out collecting data on everything from orangutan nest numbers to the pH of the soil – we want to learn as much as we possibly can about this complex and fascinating forest. All the teams would report back at the evening meetings so everyone could share in the experiences of each team and keep up to speed with what was going on. Both the foreign volunteers and the students from Muhammadiyah University of Palangka Raya (UMP) made an effort to practice their language skills with each other and epic battles were fought on the chess board of an evening.
BNF Co-Director, Dr Susan Cheyne said “This expedition was a long time in the planning but everything went to plan. With the excellent support from everyone involved at UMP, BNF and Mungku Baru village we really have made this a success. We are excited to be able to share our findings in the coming months as we complete the data analysis. Thank you to everyone involved”.
The expedition has now finished and we recorded all data needed, but the work is not over. We’re still waiting on the results from the first camera traps and preparing the expedition reports. Keep following us for more discoveries from this little-known forest.