Working far away from urban areas has its own unique challenges, as our Post-Release Monitoring (PRM) team from Camp Lesik in the Kehje Sewen Forest, East Kalimantan, can attest. Something that our team members 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, our team members need to find alternatives, especially when food stock is low. At times, our team has 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 our team members’ saving grace in particularly dire times.
In addition to ferns, our team members have also harvested various shoots to consume as part of a balanced forest diet. The last time our team ran out of vegetables, bamboo shoots were harvested from lengths of bamboo nearly two metres in height. This was somewhat unusual, as it is usually the short, new bamboo shoots that are preferable. When ferns and bamboo shoots are hard to find, our team can always turn to fishing. Every morning, before heading out on a patrol, our team members will set fishing rods or nets, in the hope a fish or two will be caught and waiting for them upon their return to camp.
One day, team member Beni set a fishing net to try and catch dinner, and succeeded in catching 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.
Another challenge arises if you accidentally hurt yourself. I, myself, accidentally slipped once while on my way down to the river bank, leaving my knees and elbows swollen. Luckily, I wasn’t seriously injured and was still able to walk!
Despite being tested by such challenges whilst living in the forest, we 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!