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SOS Rhino : In the News: : Articles : RHINO SURVEY MARCH 2003
 

RHINO SURVEY MARCH 2003

  Richard Roswell

It is amazing how such small insects can join together to form a symphony of sound second only to feedback at a concert, but it doesnít take long to get use to the constant noise and you drift off to sleep. By morning the jungle sounds have changed as you wake to get up early adjust the camp and cook breakfast and lunch to carry with us. Then its time to check the map to plan for the days trek. We set out at a fast pace up river with GPS and cyber tracker which we use to record what we see, wading though waist deep water and climbing up waterfalls along the way seeing birds, insects the signs of elephant and a plethora of those fantastic thorny spiky plants, we had a brief stop for lunch and then hit the rhino jackpot!!! By finding a wallow and many prints. By mapping out the prints you could piece together what had gone on there and how many rhinoís had visited also about when they had been there.


We took photos of the wallow and prints As seeing a rhino is near to impossible this was great find made even better by the fact it was a fare distance from the primary forest in the reserve, as the rain started to fall we pegged out the prints and covered with leaves for the guys to return the next day to take moulds. The rain continued as we headed back to camp and you soon discover why it is called a rainforest! The river and waterfalls had transformed the journey back to camp into a theme park log ride with out the log but the combined shower and laundry service is very refreshing in the humid environment, starting a fire when its raining and everything is wet was amazing to see, the guys used a rubber type substance they collected around the forest area and it was good to warm up with a hot drink and rice, as the rain eased and the evening symphony started it was time to de leech and head to bed the only interruption of the night was the loud crashing and thump of a tree falling down close to the camp which certainly gets the heart pumping in the pitch darkness.


The next day the guys took moulds of the prints and we found a few more birds and reptiles to add to the survey, by the last day the forest sounds and smells are not that foreign any more and my parang skills and spiky bush radar had improved to make travel a little faster but still not up to the speed of Vincent and Amit who look like they float across the water and rocks, more signs of elephant and a large water monitor were the high lights of the last day and the refreshing downpour as we exited the rainforest back to camp via the old logging road. Back at the field center it was time to catch up with Dr Bosi and tell what we had seen and show the moulds. The next day we set off though the reserve to a village that will be used to connect visitors with the local people and educate them on the issues facing conservation of wildlife, it was good to see the holistic approach that SOS rhino uses to raise the profile and hopefully help save the rhino and other species that live in its environment. Then it was back to the field center for training on setting up the camera traps that will be used to photograph the rhinos. My last night at the field center was spent chatting with the guys till late then back to Lahad Datu in the morning.


I would like to thank Dr Bosi, Leni, Faye, Vincent and Amit for the great time I had at tabin and also Laura at Carlotta Borneo for organizing the travel there.

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