Monday, 8 November 2010

Roadblocks (Day 6 - 07/07/2010)

Team Samhan, one of the two camera trap groups of the expedition, set out to the field really early on Day 6 (as early as 7am!) to set more camera traps. Their destination involved taking a boat to another area in the Sungai Ingei Protection Forest called Sungai Berar.

Sungai Berar is another small river that branches out from the meandering, upper catchment of Sungai Belait and is actually quite far away from the base camp. The boat ride from the base camp to the mouth of Sungai Berar took approximately 3 hours, which included stops due to obstructions along Sungai Belait.

According to the Iban community, Sungai Berar is an important area for some rare species of freshwater fishes to breed. Every season, thousands of fry will spawn from this river but ironically, the Iban fishermen seldom visit the area.

The journey to Sungai Berar was a treacherous one because of the unexpected happenings that welcomed Team Samhan. Team Samhan is made up of Metis, Ishlah, Moon, Arpin (borrowed from Team Angus), Haji Bakthiar and Samhan himself. The forest police also escorted Team Samhan on that day and luckily they did!

Team Samhan
L-R: Arpin, Samhan, Haji Bakhtiar, Ishlah, Moon and Metis

The upper catchment of Sungai Belait makes the river narrower and hence results in a lot of meanders. The whole journey from the base camp to Sungai Berar saw 7 trees that had fell and blocked the Sungai Belait. These trees are big and it was impossible for any boats to access further up into the upper catchment.

One of the big trees that had blocked the Sungai Belait

However, luck was on Team Samhan's side as the forest police had brought their chainsaw! The sound of the working chainsaw echoed through the forest and there was also an incident in which an Argus Pheasant called out upon hearing the chainsaw.

These forest police are so tough and they did their parts by sawing all the trees that had blocked the river. It wasn't an easy task and proper methods had to be applied in sawing these big trees. The forest police even climbed onto the felled trees and occasionally dived into the river in planning out their tasks.

The police forest getting their hands dirty on one of the big trees

All smiles after successfully sawing a part of the felled tree

Apart from the felled big trees that blocked the whole river, there were also some trees that partially blocked the Sungai Belait but there were 'gaps' under these trees in which the boat could pass through. The water level that day was quite low and if it was any higher, the boat wouldn't be able to pass through under these trees via the 'gaps'.

Can you see the gap under the felled tree?

It wasn't easy to maneuver the boat to go under
the trees via the gaps...but hey we did it!

So I've mentioned about two obstruction types: 1) big trees that had fallen and blocked the entire river in which chainsaw was needed and 2) trees that partially blocked the river but has 'gaps' below them in which boats can pass through.

The third obstruction type involved smaller trees that had fallen and blocked the river but the boat was able to go through directly above the felled tree. This is also dependent on the water level of the river and involved the boat in moving and sliding above the felled tree.

However, this feat could only be done if the load of the boat is light and therefore, Team Samhan had to step out of their boat a few times and balanced themselves on these trees while waiting for the boat to slide pass the trees. Dangerous balancing act I have to say!

Balancing act on one of the smaller trees.
Lose your focus and you get wet :)

After all these obstructions, Team Samhan eventually reached Sungai Berar and they ventured into an unexplored trail, which includes swamps and ridges and set their camera traps for the next two hours. The forest type in Sungai Berar is composed of riverine forest, kerangas forest, freshwater swamp forest and mixed dipterocarp forest. Team Samhan finished their work by 1pm and safely went back to the base camp after a hard day's work. Here are some pictures taken in Sungai Berar.

Ishlah setting up a camera trap

The trees in Sungai Berar are huge!
L-R: Arpin, Ishlah and Metis

Relaxing after a well-deserved lunch-break

Back in the base camp, our main chef Haji Ramlee wanted to make everyone fatter by preparing a special tea time meal which included his hand-made martabak and curry! Team Samhan made it back just in time for tea time. Here are some pictures to wrap up today's blog post.

Haji Ramlee in action!

and he prepared all meals with a big smile! :)

Azri, assistant chef, preparing the curry

Tea time is ready!

and Amalul was the first to savour his meal! NYAMAN TUU!

Thumbs up for the martabak!
Thank you Haji Ramlee and Azri!

Guess what's for dinner? :)

To be continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment