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 got dressed in huge orangutan costumes which the children enjoyed, although a few younger ones thought we were very scary!
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!
A definite highlight of our time here was the five-day expedition we embarked upon. 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. It 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.
We are now learning to conduct skinks and red langur surveys, practising our Indonesian and preparing for a day working with an education programme. 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!
Written by previous volunteers, Isabella Reynard and Louise Cox
If you are interested in joining the Orangutan Conservation Volunteer project in Indonesia, check out how you can join on the project page above.