Hello! Isabella and Louise here; two volunteers in the second group at the BNF Sebangau National Park camp. We are now over half way through our volunteering experience and over the last few weeks we have conducted gibbon triangulation surveys, measured the growth of trees in different plot sites, and surveyed the butterfly and dragonfly species in camp. We all got very excited a few days ago when a flanged orangutan male was travelling past camp and we heard him calling all night. Gibbons and red langur monkeys have also visited camp and we are very lucky to have seen them so close up!
The 19th August was International Orangutan Day. We had the pleasure of spending time in the local village playing games with children and educating them about the orangutans and the forest in general. Myself and Jack, a gibbon intern at BNF, dressed in huge orangutan costumes which the children enjoyed, although a few younger ones thought we were very scary!
A definite highlight of our time here was the five-day expedition we embarked upon in Jellutong Pondonk. We mandied (washed) in the river, slept on rice sacks (surprisingly comfortable), and got caught in the middle of a thunderstorm on the last night. Jellutong Pondok is far from any villages so there is no light pollution, meaning that it was easy to see a spectacular amount of shooting stars. There was a great atmosphere in the camp we enjoyed the games of dominos and musical evening singalongs with the field guys.
After the expedition we had a long weekend in Palangka Raya to relax and whilst we were there we visited the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. The BOS Foundation do some incredible work rescuing and rehabilitating orangutans ready for release back to the wild. We were treated to a trip to their ‘university island’ – the final stage for orangutans where they live with minimal human contact until they can be released. A male orangutan greeted us at the island, although I think he was hoping for food rather than all of us taking photos of him!
We are now learning to conduct skinks and red langur surveys, practicing our Indonesian and preparing for a day working with Anak Sebangau – an education programme supported by BNF. It’s not all hard work though as many games of monopoly, cards, and scrabble have been played in between the afternoon naps in the hammock. There have been a couple of Indonesian holidays since we arrived here when the kitchen staff have treated us to pizza, pancakes and jacket potatoes – which we have all really appreciated!