Ahhhh, sigh. Long weekends exist only for the volunteers, as I still have to coordinate most of the logistics and make sure everyone is safe/happy/fed/etc, but no complaints here. Today we go to the swimming pool for some swimming (of course), nice food, and a relaxing time…hopefully it doesn’t rain!
As promised to a friend (Hi Joana!) I thought I would explain a little more about life around camp these days. OuTrop is the biggest it’s ever been, which is super exciting but also presents some challenges! We currently have too many people for the number of beds we have in camp, so some people are on a rotation between Palangkaraya and camp for the time being. Luckily these people have lots of work to do in PKY, so it’s a win-win for everyone. This will only last for a short time, since Camille’s 6 months are up at the end of October and she’ll be leaving, and then we should have enough space for everyone again. Here’s the rundown of the people at camp right now (in addition to myself of course)-
- Nick- project manager
- Luke and Aimee- primate scientist and research assistant
- Amanda and Esther- orangutan PhD students
- Barbara and Jess- orang interns
- Sarah- gibbon intern
- Camille and Helen- kelasi interns
- Stijn- biodiversity intern
- Thea- communications
- 7 volunteers
- occasional visitors
- Indonesian staff
Sometimes the count of people eating breakfast is up to 30, which is insane! But generally everything is going well, and now we have a break from new people arriving. Between July and October I think we’ve collected about 10 staff/interns, so it’s been really busy. Obviously this is great for the project and for data collection; almost every day we have team kelasi and 2 orangutan teams out in the field following animals, and often we also have enough people to follow gibbons as well. Team kelasi just had an 8-day follow, which is one of the most exciting things to happen around camp in awhile. I think I’ve written about this before, but for the past month we have been having a really difficult time finding the kelasi and so locating them and then collecting 8 continuous days of data was both a great morale-booster for the team as well as just great for that project, as they documented some new behavior and learned new information about their focal group.
Back to the research- on top of all the primate projects, we also on a regular basis have team forestry (the best team!) doing their thing, collecting phenology data and working on the volunteer student project. At specific times of the month we also have staff out in the field collecting litterfall data, working on the camera trap project, checking the dams in some of the canals, setting and checking butterfly and other insect traps, and doing surveys for orangutan nests. All of this research is made possible (I sound like a public service announcement right now) by our amazing camp staff, including Twenti on the logistics/camp management duties, and the kitchen crew, headed by Lis. The kitchen crew wakes up at 2:30 or 3:00 am every day to have food ready for the primate teams that leave for the forest around 4:00 am, then they go back to bed for a little while and wake up again at 5:30 to make breakfast for the rest of camp. We’re pretty lucky to have them, that’s for sure! I shudder to imagine what would happen if we had to cook for ourselves. It would result in lots of noodles and nothing else, I think.
Anyway, that’s it for today, stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment on the new seedling project! In the meantime, here are a few links for everyone to check out, and if you all know anyone who might be interested please send them around. We have posted the volunteer announcement for next year here; this is a great opportunity for students or anyone interested in learning more about tropical conservation to join the project for 7 weeks! This month’s group has seen tons of orangutans, gibbons, kelasi, tarsiers, lorises, macaques, insects, snakes, etc… and has helped collect a lot of valuable data for the project that we probably wouldn’t be able to otherwise. ALSO the 2013 OuTrop calender is out, which you can order here, and it’s full of amazing pictures from all my friends. I guess I should really tell you not to order it because none of my pictures made the cut this year (kiddinggggggggg) but really….you won’t be disappointed if you buy one.