Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Environmental PPVs - Alpha 5

Alpha 5 – Imbak Canyon
Nat, Ali and John

Our adventure began with a 6am start and trip to the bus station where we got a four hour bus journey to Telupid – ‘The Centre of the Universe’ –  the middle of Sabah and the crossroads to everywhere! We were met by one of the Imbak rangers and travelled by 4x4 over very bumpy roads to Imbak Canyon’s Ranger Camp. We had a warm welcome from everyone in the camp and ate delicious food with the Rangers on our first night, who were excited to discuss our project. 

John, Nat and Ali (looking a bit sweaty)

Working in partnership with Yayasan Sabah, the Alpha 5 project team will continue to establish a basic infrastructure within Imbak Canyon. This will include the second suspension bridge construction but may also include the construction and repairs to BBC and Rangers camp, along with trail clearing.

We are very excited about the project as it is in one of the last untouched and relatively unexplored primary virgin rainforest in Sabah, if not the whole of Malaysia. Located in central Sabah, it is a 25km long valley with a self contained ecosystem surrounded on three sides by sandstone cliffs reaching 3674 feet.  It is the largest expanse of pure lowland dipterocarp forest remaining in Sabah. An exploratory expedition was held here in 1992, supported by Raleigh, in which a new tree species was discovered (Dipterocarpus megacarpa). As such, the 13c venturers will have the opportunity to not only learn how to live and survive in the jungle but to also complete mini treks in the area to local points of interest whilst researching the presence of flora and fauna.

On our second day of our PPV, we trekked into the jungle with two guides and surveyed the site for the new camp we’re going to build. We also checked out the site for the new suspension bridge, which will allow researchers to cross the Imbak River into the Class 1 protected rainforest. The aim is to ensure and promote the environmental conservation of this protected rainforest as it is due to working with Raleigh over the last eight years that Imbak Canyon achieved Class I protection in December 2008 which now prevents any logging from taking place. It is unlikely that this would have been achieved without Raleigh’s presence as we are responsible for ¾ of the infrastructure at Imbak.

Whilst trekking we saw monkeys and a gibbon swinging in the trees around us and evidence of Pygmy Elephants. We also had a great view of the incredible waterfall of Imbak falls, but we were joined by lots of leeches which had a feast on us! At dusk our guides lit fires around our camp to let the Jungle Spirits know we were there so that they wouldn’t come to the camp; this meant that we slept with one eye open!

All in all it was an awesome visit to a magical place and cannot wait for the venturers to join us and begin the vital work in the area, we’re counting the days until we can go back!

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