Sunday, November 11, 2012

Nature Orientation Course in Maliau Basin ~ PART 2

Continued from Part 1

The banner of our nature orientation course


The real adventure starts on the second day. I woke up very early in the morning at 4:45 am, in fact, the earliest one to wake up among the participants. I was not able to sleep well the whole night because I am still not used to sleeping on a double decker bed.

While everyone else is still asleep, I went to prepare myself and take photographs of the nocturnal animals left before the sun rises.

I photographed this pair of small bats flying around the balcony before dawn

Some early birds on the way to catch some worms get some breakfast

Our breakfast served in the dining hall was quite good for a local standard. All our meals and accommodation are sponsored by the government.

View of the Dining Hall balcony 

After a hearty meal, we all went to the Maliau Basin meeting room. Here, each of us get the chance to introduce ourselves formally in front of everyone. After that, Mr. Jimmy Omar and the park rangers gave talks on the introduction and rules of this forest reserve. Each of us participants are given a folder, ID card and our uniform. 

Everyone in the meeting room

After some time in the meeting room, we finally get to go out and do some real outdoor activity! 
We all excitedly wore our brand new orange uniform and headed out to start our very first outdoor activity.   

Walking on the muddy road while being careful not to step into the mud pools

Just crossing a bridge

Picture of the suspension bridge from above

After crossing a river through the Maliau Suspension Bridge, we reached our destination.
Our first outdoor activity will be canopy walking.

Climbing the wooden platform to get to the canopy bridge on top

This Canopy Walk activity is to give students a chance to explore and experience the canopy layer of the rainforest. Our ranger guides and the information displays on the skybridge taught us a lot about the types of animals and plants found there.

The Maliau Skybridge is 300 meters long and can reach a height up to 21 meters above ground. 

Maliau Skybridge

Panoramic scenery of the Maiau Basin forest canopy 

A tree-hugger, literally !

I managed to find some interesting arboreal spiders that live by camouflaging themselves on tree barks. Try to spot them in these pictures.

A jumping spider, possibly a Laufeia sp.

An easy one to notice

Okay, something a little more tougher 

I could spend the whole day on the sky bridge trying to record as many species up here as I can because it is said that 60 to 70 percent of the rain forest animals live up here in this canopy environment. Unfortunately, we still have to stick to the time table and move on, besides the rain clouds are coming.

   Still have some time to take a photo of myself climbing down the tree

After the canopy exploration, the rangers lead us to a forest trail for our second activity - forest trekking. The trail is called Knowledge Trail which is 1 kilometer in long. Our guide showed and explained to us the types of trees we see in that forest. We were also introduced to the animal that is popular and feared during jungle trekking here - leeches.

Tiger Leech, the most feared blood-sucker in Borneo

We also saw some amazing termite nest which is spiky all over

There is also this awesome coral fungi which looks like burning flames

We finished the forest trail just in time before the rain arrived. After crossing the suspension bridge, the rain became heavier so we all ran to seek shelter.

 A small crowd taking shelter under a hut

Finally, our guide suggested that we should get to Maliau Basin Belian Camp, a nearby campsite where we can get shelter from the heavy rain. While exploring the camp, I found this  strange structure stuck underneath a wooden table.

A mud nest made by an Eustenogaster potter wasp

The rain stopped after an hour. We returned to the dining hall for lunch and rest, filled ourselves up with enough energy before continuing with our next outdoor activity - Rope Challenge.

This rope challenge is like a obstacle course where we have to cross 2 obstacle. The first one is walking on a plank which both ends connected to ropes, making it swing wildly if you are not balanced (see the photo above)

The second obstacle is climbing upside down through a long rope tied horizontally (shown below)

Girl Power !

This challenge sure is exhausting! Good thing we were given a long rest after that until dinner. The meal we had during dinner was good as usual but the nocturnal species that showed up that night was indeed spectacular !

Here are some of these nighttime critters:

A rare Majangella moultoni a.k.a. Moss Mantis

A large common planthopper of MBSC

A strange-looking weevil

Our last activity of the day is just listening to talks given by the organizing team in the meeting room. They showed us a slight show on the variety of flora and fauna found in Maliau Basin. We were also told about the history of Maliau Basin.

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