EXPEDITION TIME! Who is going to join me in BORNEO?
April 12, 2017 by Dr. Carin Bondar
Have you ever dreamed of being part of a scientific expedition?
This is your chance to actually work alongside biologists and make a meaningful contribution to what we know about the world’s biodiversity. I've joined forces with Taxon Expeditions to help lead an expedition where you are not simply visiting a field site or watching scientists as they make discoveries – you are an important part of the action!
Imagine visiting one of the world’s biodiversity hotspots, being immersed in the tropical jungles of Borneo. For a few of us very lucky people, this dream is going to come true this coming September. If you are like me, you enjoy having activities and a certain agenda when you visit a foreign place. I’m always very interested in the wildlife of anywhere I visit, whether it’s a park in a large city or a small stream in the middle of a rainforest – who is living there? What are they eating? What is eating them? I suppose it’s the biologist in me, having an innate curiosity to know more about ecosystems all around the world. You can almost always find me looking under rocks or having a closer look at a tide pool or mossy outcrop.
Are you like that too?
Exploring wildlife in a totally foreign place is so much more fulfilling when there are experts at your beckon call to point out the diverse and astounding fauna that you’d fail to see if you weren’t looking for it. During this expedition with Taxon Expeditions, we are taking it a few steps further! Not only will we all be immersed in the Bornean jungles with Menno, Iva and their amazing team of scientists that are completely familiar with the biology of the area, we will actually be a part of their ongoing research that aims to map out the immense number of species that have yet to be discovered!
How cool is that? Perhaps I'll name my first species Carina Bondariensis – it’s got a ring to it don’t you think?
Because Menno and Iva are among the principal scientists that study in this area, the ground work for us has already been put into place. What exactly does this mean? It means that we get to fly into this amazing part of the world and allow their team to guide us in the discovery of species that the world does not yet know about. We have an excellent lodging facility, delicious local food prepared for us several times a day, and best of all – the opportunity to be working biologists in an ecosystem that most people only dream about. WE get to find new species of animals, WE get to identify their unique characteristics, and WE get to name them whatever we want!
Our schedule for the ten-day expedition will be full of options. Iva is among the most experienced cave biologists in this unique area of Borneo. Since many of the caves have not yet been fully explored, our expedition provides yet another amazing opportunity for us. We will have the personal assistance of an experienced guide and biologist, and we will likely find new species within the caves as well. Be prepared to experience this unique ecosystem which will have us spelunking in the company of thousands of bats and other cave-dwelling animals 6 inch (15cm) long centipedes, land crabs, acid-spraying whip scorpions, edible-nest swiftlets and blind millipedes. I cannot wait! If the caving adventures are a bit beyond your level of comfort, there’s no need to worry. We will also be embarking on many above-ground collecting trips in both the jungle and on the nearby river.
On our numerous jungle walks we will likely see some helmeted hornbills, Bornean pygmy elephants, bearded pigs and Bornean gibbons. For a bird’s eye view we can explore from the forest canopy walk which spans over 300m (980feet)! Those that want to take the adventure up a notch can join us on an overnight hike into the Maliau Basin itself. This ecosystem is like no other in the world. It’s known to locals as ‘Sabah’s Lost World’, a kerangas forest unique to the wilds of Borneo, and dominated by colorful orchids and pitcher (carnivorous) plants.
If you require some down time to simply relax and take in the incredible atmosphere of the wilds of Borneo – that’s ok too. Coffee, tea and cocoa are always available at the restaurant, and there are plenty of comfortable lounge chairs on the massive verandah overlooking the jungle. Grab a book from the well-stocked library and relax! We will be having nightly lectures or films, and of course I will be around all the time to talk about any and all aspects of biology as well. At the station there will be morning coffee and local breakfast – which usually consists of noodles with vegetables and meat or a continental with eggs and toast. Lunches and dinners are buffet-style, with many choices of rice, noodles, fish, meat, vegetables and fruit like papaya and tiny Asian bananas.
For those of you wondering (I must admit I’m included in this crowd) there IS pretty decent wifi at the station. It’s available in the common areas like reception and the restaurant. However, if it’s raining the signal is markedly decreased. Let’s face it: we are in the middle of the jungle after all!
I hope you’ll consider joining our team for what is to be an unforgettable adventure. Contact Taxon Expeditions for pricing information, and I will see you there!
Dr. Carin Bondar is a biologist, writer, presenter and a true science geek. You can currently see her on Discovery Channel's 'Outrageous Acts of Science' and 'Stephen Hawking's Brave New World'. She is host of 'Worlds Oddest Animal Couples' (Netflix Canada). Her independent web series ‘Wild Sex’, produced by Earth Touch Productions has amassed over 60 million views and she presented on this topic at TED Global 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland.