Jack Springall, who helped us run 2014 volunteer groups, shares his highlights from his time with OuTrop.
|Photo by Ben Thomas
The first time I went to Borneo is not an experience I’ll easily forget. When I stepped off the plane the heat hit me hard. This was when it became real for me; I was going to help run OuTrop’s volunteer groups for the next four months. Upon arrival I had yet to experience the Sabangau Forest and what it had to offer. I couldn’t have been more excited yet nervous all at the same time. I’ve always enjoyed helping people, and felt that I could really benefit the project, whilst learn from it too. What wasn’t there to look forward to?
The first group was fun and hectic! We had 11 volunteers to schedule and run around the forest whilst carrying out biodiversity surveys, The second group consisted of three volunteers giving a different dynamic to each. With the volunteers we achieved a great deal and even started surveys using a shiny new method for estimating orangutan population size. The exceptional morale and atmosphere at camp ensured that work was always enjoyable!
My highlights were working with wild primates and walking through the jungle on a daily basis. This combined with spending time with some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met have made it truly unforgettable.
One of my most memorable moments was filled with both fear and excitement. I was walking along a transect carrying out a survey, when a volunteer and I were faced with a large black figure hunched over a log. Upon approach the black figure stretched out its long arms, and gripping two large tree trunks it span around and started shaking them at us! It was a large adult male orangutan who was clearly not pleased to see us. We cowered down in a submissive position and waited for what felt like forever until he had calmed down and moved on. Another day I encountered a highly dangerous king cobra, I think we both startled each other! These were honestly some of the most exhilarating experiences I’ve ever had, and I want more.
However amazing the animal experiences were, however much I have learnt, and however much I can take away from my time here, none of it would have meant anything if it wasn’t for the amazing people I got to work with.
|Volunteers from the first group. Photo by Ben Thomas
This could be you next year! Apply now to be a 2015 OuTrop volunteer here.