Kelasi Surveys: By the Numbers

Life update! I’ve been on expedition to Mega Rice to help with the red langur survey for the past 9 days, and it was probably the most challenging thing I’ve done here thus far.  The way the surveys work is that we have four teams of two people, and each team consists of one researcher from OuTrop and one additional field assistant to help hear/spot things on the surveys.  We work for 8 days at a time, so each day three teams survey and one team gets to stay in camp for a day off.  The team with the day off is in charge of cooking for everyone, so they wake up at 4:00 am to make breakfast and lunch Everyone else wakes up at 5:00, eats breakfast, gathers all of the field equipment, water, and food for the day, and leaves for the forest between 5:30 and 6:00.  The survey transects are set up in a grid system and the forest is a bit of a walk from camp, so each team has to walk at least 1.5 kilometers through the forest before beginning surveys at 6:30 am.  Survey transects are two kilometers long, and we walk slowly to make sure that if there are red langurs (kelasi) nearby we can detect them.  After a two hour survey, each team walks to the designated lunch meeting spot, and we sit and chat/relax/sleep until the afternoon survey, which lasts from 2:30-4:30.  Finally, depending on the day, we either have a quick or long walk home- the quickest finishing point is only about 20 minutes from camp, whereas the farthest (and WORST) one is 3 kilometers away, which means an hour sprint back to camp to get out of the forest before it gets dark.  Then we shower, eat dinner, and relax for the rest of the night before waking up early to start it all again the next day.  Each team walks at least 10 kilometers a day, and most of the transects are essentially forest obstacle courses- there are a lot of hummocks (small hills on the forest floor where trees grow) and fallen trees at Mega Rice, which means that we constantly have to climb up and down along the way.  It’s extremely exhausting, and after 8 days we were more than ready to come home.  Luckily we had a great group of field assistants and most of the time not spent surveying was spent joking around, practicing Indonesian and English, and playing the guitar.  I don’t think I’ve quite accurately done the expedition justice just by explaining it, so here’s a by-the-numbers rundown of the week plus that we spent there:

  • 440 kilometers walked
  • 86 survey hours
  • 10 times we actually saw kelasi over those 86 hours
  • 192 packages of snacks consumed in the forest over 8 days
  • 35 kg of rice eaten
  • 12 hours spent in the forest/person/day
  • 18+ number of bruises that I have
  • 3 (give or take a few) massive groups of fire ants seen per day
  • 24 total hours spent listening to 90’s pop music at full volume (see this and this)

All that being said…it was an excellent expedition… now that its over!


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