We managed to escape for some quiet time on evening to go to Pantai Sematan (Sematan Beach). It’s about an hour away from Kampung Sematan where we were staying. The beach is beautiful. The sand is soft and the coastline just goes on and on. There was nobody else there but us.
Sarawak really has some hidden gems. It is a tropical paradise.
The aim of this trip was to assist Hymeir, the conservationist who runs Earth Lodge at Ulu Muda to collect the camera traps from the area. He looks after 4 which belongs to WWF and 2 belongs to him. The camera traps are generally left for about 3 months in the jungle. They run on AA batteries, have night vision and are motion sensored.
When Hymeir asked me if I wanted to join him as a volunteer, of course I grabbed the opportunity. I met Hymeir 6 months ago when I went to Earth Lodge as a visitor. To read about my previous post, click here. My trip was cut short that time, when a tree fell on my hut as we were out trekking. I didnt mention it in the previous post, but the tree actually fell on top of our hut, cut it open and landed right on top of my mattress. It could have been the end of me, but I survived to tell the tale and here I am back again! Oh and the place was infested with leeches. If i said millions of them I wouldn’t be exaggerating.
Anyway, back to this trip. We arrived at the lodge at about 3.30pm. A bit later than we wanted because Hymeir had to run some errands on the way. We unpacked our bags and went straight back onto the boat. First mission, to collect all 6 camera traps from the area. We had to take the boat and then trek to access the cameras which were in different areas. Second mission to check on the repair work needed for the hide out. Third mission, to animal watch at dusk.
That afternoon, we saw a group of pigmy tail macaques, family of wild boars, a few families of otters, lots of birds like herons, egrets, falcon, eagle, kingfisher, hornbills, butterflies. There was clearly more wildlife than I saw on my first trip. It could be the mating season and the dry season combined. Oh, and hardly any leeches, big bonus!
After dinner, Hymeir downloaded the footage from the cameras and we viewed with anticipation. The hope is to catch a tiger on camera. Since setting up the cameras, no tiger has been seen, in fact, no tigers has ever been seen in the area. The usual suspects are elephants, tapirs, wild boars, monkeys, samba deers, sun bears, pangolins and small cats. It’s hard to see wildlife in the jungle because they usually come out at night and there are so many places to hide but with the cameras, you know they exist. The footage from the cameras are really amazing. Ive been persuading him and WWF Malaysia to turn them into videos. I’ve planted the seed….possibly in the near future.
So no tigers caught on camera. The bad news is there were a lot of poachers caught on camera, one with a gun. Poaching is a big problem in Malaysia. It’s quite easy to go in to poach because there are no park rangers in the area. There are illegal loggers as well. Sadly, there will be no animals left, and no rainforest left.
The next morning I slept in. I woke up to find Hymeir installing the kitchen cabinet. He is constantly upgrading the place. It’s not so easy to upgrade the place at one go because the only access in is by the small fishing boat. There are trails but logistically it doesn’t make sense to carry the supplies in by foot.
The lodge was built by the government. There are many things both Hymeir and I dislike about the buildings, so we have started discussion on how to improve the place without too many changes. Stay tuned to see what we do!
We left in the afternoon. On the way back by boat, as we turned the bend at the famous elephant crossing, I spotted my first wild elephant in Malaysia. I saw a wild elephant in Thailand last year, I’ve seen Elephants on safari but never a wild elephant in my own country. Click here to go to Earth Lodge to read the full story of the elephant encounter.