adventure

For the Love of... Herps?

For the Love of... Herps?

My second week here in Malaysia began much the same way as the first ended. Sitting on the edge of the road, camera set up and trained on the little birds nest just inside the forest. After three more long days of surveys, as much as I was fascinated by the potential new discovery that we were recording with the two female Black Naped monarchs brooding the nest, I was ready to get back to Merapoh and start preparing for the special weekend ahead!

As some of you that have followed Life Gone Wild for a little while may have picked up, while I love aaaall animals, I do have a particular passion for herpetofauna (reptiles and amphibians). My previous experience in Merapoh had yielded a grand total of 1 snake and a few species of frogs. Effectively nothing. So it was with great excitement that I prepared for the arrival of Dr Teo Eng Wah (Known as Vince in the photography world) and Muhammad Khaidhir Ariff (Boy), an excellent herp photographer and a snake handler (who apparently is able to free handle a King Cobra!). They were coming to help us kick off a new project looking at the herpetofaunal biodiversity of Merapoh and the Sungai Yu Forest Reserve. To say that I was hoping to increase those earlier numbers exponentially would be an understatement.

Kenyir believe it?!

Kenyir believe it?!

Malaysia… I’m back. Somehow I just couldn’t stay away. But, while it’s only been a week, I’ve got to admit that I’m glad I chose to come back to the Merapoh Rainforest Station.

It’s hard to believe how much has changed in the 10 months since I was last here. As a conservationist, the place left a lot to be desired previously. The extent of the conservation efforts was basically being involved in two anti-poaching treks a week and a little bit of community education work. While this is all important stuff, it was definitely a lot less, nor the kind of experience, that I was expecting. Merapoh, and Malaysia, have lots to offer in terms of conservation, and it’s only now that I’m beginning to discover the full extent of what that means.

Changing the Destiny of the Farmer of the Forest

Changing the Destiny of the Farmer of the Forest

Malaysia’s tropical rainforests host an incredible array of wildlife, recognised as one of the worlds leading ‘biodiversity hotspots.’ Spending time trekking through the forests, you can see, hear, and sense the presence of this diversity all around you. The huge variety has led to some truly remarkable adaptations and quirks in evolution. Some of these little oddities have seen their owners pushed right to the brink of extinction. One bird species in particular has seen their numbers plummet in a very short amount of time, jumping from being ‘Near Threatened’ straight to ‘Critically Endangered’ in 2015 when the IUCN re-evaluated their conservation status. At this point in time, no one is sure how many of these majestic birds are even left in the wild. The Helmeted Hornbill (Rhinoplax vigil) is truly one of the most amazing birds across South-East Asia, but also one of the most endangered.

How My Life Got Wild

How My Life Got Wild

As a child, I wanted to be many things. A sportsman, a zookeeper, a wizard, a jedi. Apart from my father however, I only ever wanted to be one person; I wanted to be Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter. From as early as I can remember, and probably earlier still if you ask my parents, I could spend hours at a time sitting down watching Steve leaping out of boats onto crocodiles, and rushing after and picking up venomous snakes. Perhaps most importantly though, I was absorbing his passion for any, and all animals.