I hope you all appreciate my ddedication to this blog - I am up at the crack of dawn to write it as I am off to Sipadan in an hour!
The last 9 days I've been jungle trekking, which has been great fun! The first 5 days of the placement we were counting the Orang-Utans nests in the morning, which involved walking between 2 and 4km and counting nests along a 2knm transects. It started of pretty tame, we mainly stuck to the paths but after a couple of days we were living more dangerously, I think its safe to say we'd have been up shit creek if we didn't have James leading the way! As we proved in the outdoor nursery our orienteering skills need work! We also had to balance along a few slipperly logs and climb over some questionably safe looking bridges! One day we walked out to the water hole and walked along the top of the waterfall!
We saw a few interesting things like a spider with red horns bigger than its body! and heard alot of bird calls including a wild peacock!
In the afternoons we were helping out at the Sun bears enclosure, they're such beautiful animals, the smallest of the bears with really long tongues, they eat mainly fruit and insects. Unfortunately the enclosure they have needs alot of work and the number of bears they have is contuinually growing, the week we were there they got the 12th addition, Susie. They badly need funds to build a new enclosure and a visitor centre as 2 of the bears - Susie and Syria (who is just a baby) are confined to small cages. Wai and Roslee (the bears keepers) do their best for the bears though, providing as much enrichment as possible. While we were there we raked leaves for in the enclosure, drilled holes in tyres to stop the water pooling in them ans prevent mosquitoes laying their eggs in them. When we went to the giant supermarket we bought a few bits for the bears - they love honey and Syria is particularly partial to peanut butter. We were scheduled to spend the first 5 afternoons with the bears but word came out that in addition to the new baby Orang-Utan and Susie there was a new Sumatran Rhino on the way (its been a year since the last one the centre cared for died) so we had to help clear the old Rhino enclosure, which was not the most pleasant job - raking leaves and shovelling lots of mud! But it was here we realised the big difference between the Malaysian and British work ethic - Malaysians go for the 'leave it and have a beer and we'll finish it tomorrow' They're also big on peer pressure here - if they're drinking, so are you! So it was a beer break with all the rangers after cleaning the Rhino pen each day! Which proved alot of fun!
On Monday night we all went to mile 4 for dinner, and karaoke! It was brilliant - Amoi and co are so good and they take their karaoke very seriously here! Apparently someone got killed for singing bad karaoke - I was only informed this after Selina, Katie and I had murdered a few numbers (including Mr. Big's To Be With You - got to be done!).
For the last 4 days we were carrying out a small mammal survey which involved setting 30 traps about 1.5km into the jungle and for 4 days we would check them in the morning and afternoon. Some days we didn't catch much as the macaques had raided the traps but we caught quite a bit, no Moon Rats though which we were hoping for! We even caught a couple of tortoises that got themselves wedged in the traps! We caught small mammals like Plantain Squirrels, Muller Rats, Low's Ground Squirrels, Large Tree Shrews and Common Tree Shrews (which squeal like a squeaky dog toy when you pick them up). When we caught them we had to weigh, measure and sex them and then cut a small patch of hair as a recapture mark. On the last day we hardly caught anything, and as we got to 1 of the traps we could only watch as a Plantain Squirrel escaped! And the next Trree Shrew we caught squirmed out of James hands and escaped!
I really enjoyed the small mammal survey (excepting the part when I got a leech stuck in my belly button! We had to get it out with a pen - very unpleasant!). I also got my Machete this week - not entirely sure what use its going to be in England but its awesome, Gabili made it and it has my name carved on it!
Alot of the time we spent hanging around the clinic, which was nice as we got to see the Orang-Utans in the indoor nursery and occasionally take an Orang-Utan back to the outdoor nursey - Mico and Tiger were particularly bad for wandering off!
On Wednesday night Julie was leaving so we had a bit of a do! Was good fun but mad Julie will certainly be missed, she was the life and soul!
On Friday night we were supposed to have our local culinary experience, but Sylvia is still away so it will have to wait! On Saturday and Sunday we went on a night walk with James (after our run - we're in training for the mountain climb! - I don't think its going to help!) on saturday night we saw Giant Red Flying Squirrels which were incredible!We also saw a Pit Viper, A frog a Giant Gecko with no tail and a few spiders! Not forgetting Merico on his way to make a nest! On Sunday night (after being forced to neck a rice wine each!) we went up to the Outdoor nursery to watch the Orang-Utans make their nests, which we did not see as we spent the whole time playing with Naru and lovely Ganang!
In the evening we had a LUSH bbq, courtesy of Amoi and co (Annabel and I had gone to mile 4 with Amoi and George on Saturday during lunch to get food so the vegetarians had a bit of a feast!). Gerogie, Kate and Fiona had just got back from Rasa Ria so it was party time! I retired at about 11 (its quite surreal this knowing when to stop thing) but I think the party went on pretty late and got even more messy (with the Salina tequila - Selina was loving it!)
Anyway, I have to run now! I'm off to to Sipadan! Will update when I get back on wednesday!