With our first slot in full swing we’re starting to get somewhere. Pushing ever further into the nature reserve, it is proving hard to find areas that are not showing signs of human impact, with land either being used for rubber plantations or for legal/illegal logging (the margin seems a little blurred). But our best results have been in these areas so far. A couple of days ago, while interviewing a shopkeeper in a village, he showed us a picture on his phone that had been taken 5 km away in a rubber plantation of a what looked like a tiger track print. He took the picture within the last year and we are currently trying to arrange with him to take us there so we can look for more signs in that area.
Also, along one trail we stumbled across a big-cat/bear trap, although it didn’t look like it had been used in a while. But the big news this week is clear tracks of wild cat and tracks of clouded leopard along with scat samples plus sightings of siamang gibbons.
With all this going on, we’ve even managed to squeeze in a day off and went onto a couple of the local villages, Gema and Tanjung Belit. In Tanjung Belit we were invited into Anto’s (whose kitchen we are having our food prepared in) house for ice tea and snacks. Word must have gone out fast amongst the little ones in the area, as almost instantly their faces were pressed up to the windows as they all tried to get a look at the strangers in town. Reminding me of playing granny’s footsteps, as they got ever closer until we would turn to look at them and they’d flee the scene screaming, only to do it all again when our backs were turned.
Today sees our first group going out for an overnighter to do a lengthier survey in the forest, following a stream that feeds the Subayang river. Hopefully there will be some exciting news from them on their return; sadly, however, there were no campfire song sheets or marshmallows with them, so we hope this does not affect the morale too much.