From our Sumatran tiger conservation volunteering holiday in Indonesia (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/sumatra)

Hello everyone, this is Anthony. Ronald and I made it to Pekanbaru safe and sound, and after a stopover at the WWF headquarters in the city, set off to the Subayang field base with Febri, our scientist and some other members of the team. The drive took us into the night and we eventually got to the end of the road in a small village on the Subayang River. The longboat journey took us into almost complete darkness, with only dim torch light from the driver as he approached the bends, and flashes of lightning in the distance silhouetting the silent grandeur of the rainforest. Once at Subayang base our camp helpers, who were eager to help us on shore, greeted us. We made our way up the path and saw the magnificent wooden building. We laid out our beds and mosquito nets in the large communal living room upstairs. The house is as much a part of nature than anywhere I could think of or have been before. When the generator falls silent, the rainforest you can hear the noise and excitement of the local inhabitants, from the high pitched din of the insects to the distant howls of the gibbons. It took a while, but eventually the room seemed to cool down and gradually everyone went off to sleep.

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There’s a week to go and plenty of work for us to perpare for your arrival on Sunday. Having spent the last few days here, I can say for myself that I need not have brought the extra pullovers as it’s so warm and humid, but am glad I’ve both my walking boots and rubber boots for the different terrains we’ve covered so far. We’re working hard to have everything ready for the arrival of group 1 and are looking forward to meeting you at the Tune Hotel (now actually called Red Planet Hotel) assembly point next Sunday at 08:00.

So as we prepare at this end, please can you do some more preparation too. In addition to studying the dossier, have a look at the “Methods & equipment” playlist. The bits that are relevant to the expedition are GPS, compass & map, Garmin etrex 20, PBLs, camera trapping, binoculars, Hennessy Hammock (for those of you wanting to use those), matchete use, and the methodology from the previous diary entry. Enjoy!


From our Sumatran tiger conservation volunteering holiday with tigers in Sumatra, Indonesia

From our Sumatran tiger conservation volunteering holiday in Indonesia (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/sumatra)

Febri, Ronald and Anthony are now at Subayang base, setting things up for the start of our expedition.

Subayang base
Subayang base

Our young scientist Febri

is still working on the exact activities, but they should look something like this

We will be working in a jungle landscape,

using a grid method that will be very similar to what we are using on our snow leopard expedition in Tien Shan (as explained below).

The grid we will be using is this

and the more you know about this methodology, the better, so have a look at the manual for it. That folder also contains the .gtm file for Sumatra. If you are a tech person, then you can upload the file to your GPS using freeware TrackMaker and then use your own GPS on site, if you would like to (we’ll supply GPS units too, of course).

Enough methodology for now. Let’s see what tales Ronald and Anthony will bring from the ground in a day or so….


 

From our Sumatran tiger conservation volunteering holiday with tigers in Sumatra, Indonesia

From our Sumatran tiger conservation volunteering holiday in Indonesia (http://www.biosphere-expeditions.org/sumatra)

The time has come for our Sumatra tiger expedition. After many years of discussions and many months of preparation, Ronald, your expedition leader for groups 1 – 3, has left Europe and is now en route to Pekanbaru. With him is Anthony, who will be there for group 1 and then groups 4 – 6. A few days behind them is Dr. Matthias Hammer, our founder and Executive Director. Waiting in Pekanbaru is Febri Anggriawan Widodo, our scientist from local partner WWF Indonesia. And in the field is the Batu Dingding community, who will host us at Subayang research station, and, hidden in the jungle somewhere for us to track, photograph and find out about as much as we can, is Panthera tigris.

Thank you to all of you for wanting to help with the tiger’s plight. A plight it is indeed, especially on Sumatra, and the more help we have, the more awareness we can generate and the more incentives for local people we can create, the more likely we are to succeed. You could have gone to Dubai, or to Singapore, or spent a beach holiday somewhere, but instead you have chosen to sweat it out with us in the jungle, walk the trails, get your hands dirty and your feet wet, learn from each other and see what we can do. Thank you for that, even before we have started.

We hope your preparations are going well, especially the trailblazers of group 1, only a few days away from starting their journeys. We are sure you have all realised by now that you are joining a research expedition, not a tiger watching holiday. And before we have even set foot into the reserve, we will already have made a difference with the local community. But cut them some slack, please. It’s their first time with a big group of foreigners and Indonesia works differently to Europe or North America or the Antipodes. But just like at home, things will go wrong (but you can’t have your money back ;), take a long time or not happen as planned, or even not at all. It’s all part of the experience and you will certainly have a story to tell back home.

Anyway, Ronald will check in from Pekanbaru in a few days time, when he’s been to Subayang and back and found his feet locally. He will then also share his mobile number in case of any emergencies. Stay tuned. We’ll be back…


From our Sumatran tiger conservation volunteering holiday with tigers in Sumatra, Indonesia