Monday, May 08, 2017

Snap, Travel and Pop: Borneo - Jungle Reforestation Camp

After a long ass journey which included a 2 hour breakdown we made it to Kinabatangan for the start of our jungle experience!

At Kinabatangan we were volunteering with a NGO called Kopel which supports the Reforestation of Borneo’s ancient jungle.

A lot of jungle has been lost to logging (in the 80s the majority of the world’s wood came from Borneo) and, more recently, Palm oil plantations.

This has left Borneo to be about 60% jungle/forest.

So, we had a week to sort this environmental​ injustice out.

The Government has designated certain areas for the jungle which are protected or need to be reclaimed and replanted.

The aim is to make a jungle corridor so that the wildlife can migrate over a large area, increasing their gene pool.

Before we got stuck into work we needed to get some much needed sleep.

Our accommodation over the majority of the week would be in the form of a homestay.

After my first homestay in Peru many years ago my views on them are fairly tarnished, however, the Amnesa family were very welcoming, clean and could cook so things weren’t so bad.

Thankfully they also had a western toilet but we did have to squat for the shower.

The kids were sweet, the mum was nice and the dad was grumpy/quiet – like a regular family anywhere in the world.

Our first full day started with a jungle trek and river cruise.

Our guide, Jeff, was quite excited about a herd of over 100 elephants in the vicinity.

There was also the potential to see crocodiles, monkeys, sun bears, pythons, wild pigs and Borneo clouded leopards.

We therefore had high hopes when we set off on our trek.

The jungle was hot, moist and noisy. And, despite the promise of exciting wildlife, 30 minutes into the trek we had seen diddly squat. Sad times.

 But suddenly Jeff exclaimed “tracks!”. A hush came over the group, part excitement part fear.

Was it the elephants? Or maybe the leopards? Or even the sun bears?

Danger could be behind the next tree so, like a midget using a urinal, we had to stay on our toes.