Before Research Could Begin, Transects Had to be Cut for the Team to Walk Along 

Assistant Lead Scientist, Lara Rogers, describes the slow, but ultimately successful, process of cutting trails through the rainforest

 We made it.  Camp Foyle, our home for the 8 weeks in the rainforest.  Time for what most of us have come for, the research.  After of course the transects had been put in (the paths from which we will conduct the majority of our research). 

We planned to have a main North South trail – called the Ridgway Trail after Rupert Ridgeway of Project Barito Ulu who has been an enormous figure in the success of this expedition – which would lead to all the transects spaced 500m apart. 

We planed to repeat this design on the opposite side of the river. 

We planned to have 30km worth of transects. 

Oh ‘the best laid plans’ and all that! 

We chopped and we chopped and hit a large river.  We built a tree bridge. 

We chopped and we chopped right through a wasps nest, sustained numerous stings on hands and legs.  Day off was needed to decrease the swellings.  We chopped and we chopped around the wasps nest.

We chopped and we chopped, we slipt and we slided up and down banks, through streams and bogs. The mud stuck to the bottom of our boots and trousers making the 4-6 km per day feel like 40-60 km. 

We now have 5 transects (the Cody, Butler, Barnes, Hay and Tenison Transects) on one side of the river totalling 10 km.  ‘If research was easy everyone would be doing it’.  You have to be tough, resilient and have good sense of humour when the plans start to slip. 

There may not be many but they’re great and have been made extremely safe.  Steep slopes have been fitted with steps, slippy areas have hand rails and muddy bogs have been covered with small bridges.  

But most importantly they work.  On the first day of the diurnal survey Agung, Bobo and myself came across red langurs, a Eurasian otter, white fronted langurs, a sambar deer, a giant squirrel and, most excitingly, not just 1 but 2 sun bears. 

All of our hats go off to our team of transect cutters from Tumbang Tohan with out whom we’d probably still be chopping!