Wednesday, 5 August 2009

Alpha 4 on top of their game in Sepilok

In the first week of Phase 2, I had a chance to spend a few days with Alpha 4. The Sepilok-based project team are well on track with the building of the new camp where Raleigh Borneo teams will be based while they work on the new jungle enclosure for the Bornean sun bears.

In the first week, the team have finished the roof of the first building and were able to move in. According to PMs Ruthie and Tom, who have been in Sepilok since the project started, sleeping in their new accommodation was much more comfortable, resulting in a better sleep for everyone.

Ruthie, excited to finally be moving into the new building, just as the roof was being finished.

The team then had to clear more space for the second building, similar in design to the first one but slightly smaller. The second building will be used as the team's new kitchen and store room. The site was infested with miriads of fire ants, which got the best of everyone. Fight fire with fire they say, so we decided to start a small fire to smoke the pervasive ants out.

Then it was time to start on the building's foundations. Here, Maddy is battling the annoying tree root that turned up right in the middle of the post hole.

..more hole digging followed.

Extra-heavy belian wood post then needed to be cut and put up, while ensuring all the angles and levels were correct. Tough job.

To make their work more efficient, the team decided to split tasks. Fredrick Taylor would have approved.


PM Tom, a construction manager back in the UK, had to single-handedly cut the belian posts to size. The power supply came from an unbelievably-heavy generator used for this tasks only - it would have been next to impossible to cut the wood as required using a hand saw.

After a hard day's work, nothing is better than a good dinner meal. And even better, if there is a desert to follow. Unfortunately, in this case the custard powder turned into something that was reminiscent of many things except custard. Nevermind, the team could always come up with imaginative ways of turning their Raleigh rations into various sugar-based concoctions.

Monday, 3 August 2009

CRITTER UPDATE: venturers get amongst Sabah's fauna (and vice versa)!

The teams are now well into their second half of Phase 2 - in fact, they will be back to the Changeover at the end of the coming week, and we will be updating you on that accordingly.

In the meantime, we thought it would be a good time to show you some of the various Sabah critters that have been spotted since deployment. Sabah's animal life is diverse, and you just never know what might turn up on your way!



The misty dense jungle that surrounds Imbak Canyon is home to many unique plants, insects, and birds.

Tiger leach (Haemadipsa picta) - many venturers have already had a chance to meet this little persistent fellow while trekking or camping in the jungle. Leeches are a fact of life here in Borneo, and seem to find their way through shirts, shorts, and socks! In Phase 1, some of the innovatively-thinking venturers decided to gaffer-tape their trousers and socks together to prevent the little thirsty critters from getting in! Nice work.



A vivious-looking spider spotted by our photographer.

Alpha 4 venturers came across this scorpion - the obligatory photo shoot followed, but we confirm the scorpion was placed back into the jungle safely.


A hiding viper patiently awaiting its prey among leaves and braches.


A butterfly moth at Imbak Canyon.

Insects that mimic nature are plentiful here - this one claims to be a plant leaf. There are also numerous 'stick' insects that are extremely hard to spot.


Another common creature, reportedly called 'jungle lice' - with a hardy outside shell, this critter rolls into a perfectly round shape when it senses danger, totally freezing for hours.


One of the many butterflies in Sabah.

A young cobra snake met during a trekking phase by Alpha 5.

A tree grub, we wonder what it would taste like.

An unidentified caterpillar - many brightly-coloured ones in Sabah are often poisonous.

A rather giant cicada - there are around 2500 species around the world!

The omnipresent gecko: it is estimated 2,000 different species of geckos exist worldwide.

While some critters have all the roaming jungle space they need, others have to survive in an extremely restricted habitat. Henry Routh contemplates what life would be like inside an old cage.