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CHALLENGING FOREST LIFE

Working far away from urban areas has its unique challenges, as our Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) team from Camp Lesik in the Kehje Sewen Forest, East Kalimantan, can attest.

Something the technicians regularly experience is running out of supplies and materials, especially when transport vehicles cannot enter the area due to overflowing rivers, landslides, and other dangerous circumstances.

When situations like this arise, the team members need to find alternatives, especially when food stock is low. At times, they have had to utilise the surrounding natural resources, like, collecting and cooking ferns and keeping fishing rods and nets handy to catch protein-rich fish. These forest foods, provided by Mother Nature, have been their saving grace in particularly dire times.


In addition to ferns, the technicians have harvested various shoots to consume as part of a balanced forest diet. The last time the PRM team ran out of vegetables, bamboo shoots were harvested from lengths of bamboo nearly two metres in height. This was somewhat unusual, as the short, new bamboo shoots are usually preferable.

When ferns and bamboo shoots are hard to find, the team can always turn to fish. Therefore, before heading out on patrol every morning, they will set fishing rods or nets to catch a fish or two.

One day, team member Beni set a fishing net to catch dinner and caught a mahseer fish! However, when he went to collect the fish, it managed to break free and escape back into the river. As a result, Beni returned to camp empty-handed.

Despite the challenges, our team always finds ingredients for a well-deserved dinner.

Another challenge arises if one of the technicians accidentally hurts themselves. Muhamad, for example, accidentally slipped once while on his way down to the riverbank, leaving his knees and elbows swollen. Luckily, he wasn’t seriously injured and was still able to walk.

Despite being tested by such challenges whilst living in the forest, the technicians are happy to experience the simple joys of forest life and the feeling of togetherness as a team: “When we face our problems with a smile and a good attitude, we can do anything!”

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