In the week before Christmas, I assembled a crack team (see below) of chain-smoking, parang-wielding Research Assistants to help me cut and mark my trail system.
It went surprisingly well, if exhausting. My parang (curved machete) skills are improving and I’m learning every day about the forest and how best to work with it. Bound by the statistical necessities of a random sampling design (ahem), we’re forced to explore parts of the forest here that have probably rarely been walked. At one point, we came across a steep drop down towards a small waterfall. Clambering down the vertical hillside, using tree roots as make-shift hand-holds, was a bit of a Bear Grylls moment. Equally dumbass, no doubt. And we had an Indiana Jones moment, coming across a network of caves buried in a tangle of vegetation clinging to the side of a steep valley. Without a torch, I wasn’t up for taking on a pit of snakes. Another day.
Wildlife sightings are coming on, if still woefully inadequate. So far, from both the roads and forest, we’ve had Bornean gibbon, bearded pig, barking deer (or Bornean red muntjac), long-tailed macaque, pig-tailed macaque and yellow-throated marten (two of the latter were almost roadkill). Oh, and sun bear tracks! Worryingly, one of my research assistants said he was sure it was an orang-utan footprint. Perhaps an orang-utan in need of a pedicure.