The LEWS Headquarters

Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary (LEWS) can be accessed through three field stations, namely Nanga Segerak, Nanga Mujok and Nanga Bloh. The main station or headquarters for this sanctuary is located at Nanga Bloh, Ulu Katibas which is falls into Sibu Division. So, for my second familiarization trip, i went to Nanga Bloh field station. This trip is quite interesting in term of mode of transportation because we have to fly from Kuching to reach Sibu town and then followed by taxi to get to the Sibu Express Terminal and then using boat express to reach the other town called Song and finally have to use long boat to reach the station.

Sibu Terminal

The morning view of Rajang River from the boat express at the Sibu Express Terminal 

song-1

The small town – Song Town

The summary of the journey is:

  • Kuching to Sibu via Flight = 30 minutes
  • Sibu Airport to Express Terminal via taxi = 20 – 30 minutes (depends on traffic)
  • Express Terminal to Song Town via boat express = 2 hours
  • Song Town to Ng Bloh Field Station via long boat = 6 hours and half
Katibas

On the long boat heading to the Ng Bloh Field Station

jetty

The Ng Bloh Field Station jetty. The water level is more lower compare to the day we arrived.

katibas_river_2

The view from the station’s jetty towards the upper Katibas River

signboard

The sanctuary’s rules and regulations stated on this signboard which located on the the entrance to the sanctuary

hostel

The two-storey accommodation is located on the highest part of this compound. Four rooms (hostel type) and two rooms executive type. Large kitchen and living room area with very nice veranda for bird watching.  

verandah

The veranda equipped with set of chairs and tables. I like sitting here while watching birds and squirrels feeding on the fruit trees in front of this building. 

office

The office building is very spacing.

office_2

The station is managed by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (Protected Area and Biodiversity Conservation Division) under Sibu Regional Office.

fruit tree

The view from the office building, where some of the fruit trees were planted next to the river bank.

Since this is only a five days trip with two nights spent at the station, i only managed to walk around the station’s compound areas. There were no trails available for a walk next to this area. Thus, i need to use a boat if i want to explore the forest trails.

the forest

It was raining when i was walking around, exploring this field station’s compound.

dove

Found one dead Emerald Dove (Chalcophaps indica) while walking around. It hits the glass door of the building and it didn’t make it through though. Confused bird, pity her.

doggie

I am not sure where this dog came from but i think he follow one of the workers from the longhouse to this station. He follow me around when i am exploring this place. Maybe he is just hungry and want me to give him food. 

dog & me

Then we were stuck in the rain and we took a selfie

I am not quite satisfied with this trip because i am not managed to at least walk in the forest trail for an hour or two perhaps. But, the weather also not permitted us to do that when it was raining the whole day on the second day. I am still curios and eager to come back and explore this sanctuary from this Northern part. It must be very exciting and interesting.

 

 

Trekking Through Ubah Trail

engkari

The Engkari River

The weather is a bit cloudy that morning but it doesn’t stop me from my plan to trek to one of the trail at this field station. I am already very excited to explore a little bit of this wildlife sanctuary so, i decide to trek to Ubah Trail. With assistance from the headman, TR Bada Ak Chendai and two general workers, Mr. Lubok Ak Tungkat and Mr. Bakar Ak Enggong we were heading to the trail. We have to cross Segerak River mouth and then Engkari River to reach the starting point of Ubah Trail.

Dam

The water dam of the gravity water feeds for the field station

I insist to look at the water catchment for the field station. The headman brought me to see the water dam and it is on the small stream next to the Ubah Trail. The dam is clogged with soil and debris from the heavy rain the night before. They clean the dam at least twice a month and if the water is blocked after the heavy rain .

flower

The wild ginger flower

We continue our walk along the Ubah Trail. I take a chance to captured some interesting photos along this walk. The first 300m is climbing uphill and then we continue for another 700m before we turn back to the station.

strangling_figs

The strangler fig tree

trail

The trail looks so much better when the forest still have big trees

dancing

The Great Argus pheasant dancing ground

argus

Only managed to see one of the Great Argus pheasant feather

fruit

I always attracted to the fruit’s shell, left on the forest floor eaten by animals

seed_bank

The forest is always a seed bank

segerak_river

The Segerak River mouth, tributary of Engkari River

It was a a great walk even though it is only for a short while. I managed to heard calls made by Muller’s Gibbon and Great Argus during our walk. Observed a few species of birds but it was a bit quite, maybe because we were already very late, almost noon time. Overall, it is still an interesting forest to discover and explore. For the next visit, i must do something more interesting rather than just walk like a tourist in this forest.

me

Happy face when i get a chance to swim in this refreshing and cooling water

 

Journey to LEWS

On 15th until 18th February, i was on my site familiarization visit to one of the Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary (LEWS) field station called Nanga Segerak Biological Centre. It is located at Ulu Engkari river. On this southern part of LEWS, it is boundary with Batang Ai National Park of Sarawak, Malaysia and Betung Kerihun National Park of West Kalimantan, Indonesia.

We leave 7th Mile, Kuching at 6.30am, where the sun is still starts to show its face. It took us about three hours to reach Lubok Antu town. Both of us never step our feet at Lubok Antu town or Batang Ai dam, so we were not confident if we were at the right location. Luckily our contact person was reach town early and we can ask the direction from him via phone. We take our lunch at Lubok Antu town before we proceed to Batang Ai jetty, where our boatmen park their long boats.

Rose_1

Passing 13th Mile of Kota Padawan

The Batang Ai dam is amazingly calm when we reach there about 11.30am with its bluish colour of water. There is one block of shoplot that consists of a few coffee shops and mini grocery store. So we still can get our food supply from these shops but with a bit higher price.

rose_2

The Batang Ai land mark is this fish replica

In order to avoid rough waters in the dam we were advise to leave the jetty before 1pm in the afternoon. As we already loaded our belongings to the longboat, we leave the jetty around 12.30pm. The water is still calm at this time.

rose_3

On the boat heading to Engkari River

However, the sky looks very dark from the Engkari side and slowly i can feels the strong wind and the waves start to develop on the surface of the lakes. As we enter to the Engkari River, the raindrops starts and i have to borrow the plastic bags from my friend to cover myself from getting wet.

rose_7

This is Rh Bada of Nanga Talong which we spent our first night

Our journey from Batang Ai jetty to Rh Bada took us almost five hours. We reach the longhouse about 5pm. I will not elaborate further about the longhouse because i already make a special entry about it in my previous post.

rose_13

Getting ready to heading upper river

On the next day, we prepared ourselves to continue our journey to the biological centre. We were using only one long boat with a total of eight people on board. The boat quite overloaded but since the boatmen and rangers looks so confident about it, i just cast away my fears.

rose_9

Strong current and strong, experienced boatmen

I get the adrenaline rush with this experienced going against the strong current and big boulders in the river. I shouted all the time and grabbing tightly to the boat (such a baby!). Ha ha ha..

rose_4

Pulling the boat off the big boulders

Sometimes we have to get off the boat so the boatmen can push the boat off the boulders or when we pass by the strong current to avoid our boat capsized.

rose_5

Happy faces after we succeed overcome the difficult part which they called Wong Jagai

rose_6

They took the opportunity to catch fishes for our dinner 

They using the casting nets to catch fishes for our dinner. These locals were allowed to catch fishes from this river for their own consumption. Only these communities have this privileged because they are the local community living adjacent to this wildlife sanctuary. I am quite surprise seeing them doing this, but as i read through the agreement and the management plan for this sanctuary, i began to understand that this sanctuary is special.

rose_8

The catch is little but it is sufficient for us

We arrived at the centre around 2.30pm. It was because of a few stops and the river itself very rough and difficult.

rose_11

Drying my caps and other clothes

I was all wet when we arrived at the centre because of all the water splash and walking in the river. Hungry and exhausted, we prepared our lunch together.

Ng Segerak_2

The lab & office of this biological centre

Ng Segerak_1

The view of the other building consists of kitchen, dining area & hostel

Once we arrived at the centre, we just can not doing anything because already very exhausted of the tiring journey. Thus, we settle in and having a rest for the next day i plan to hike to one of the trail which they name it Ubah Trail. It was an amazing and exciting journey to get to this biological centre.

The People of Ulu Engkari

Jetty

The still and calm water of Batang Ai Dam

The weather looks clear when we were about to leave the jetty of Batang Ai dam. However, after 30 minutes on the boat the dark clouds covered the sky and rain start to dripping. Lucky for us that we already pass through the dam and we are entering the Engkari river mouth. The water level is a bit low and just sufficient for us to going up river. I am still wondering what adventure await us as we start to enter into a more narrow and rocky river. The water is a bit muddy and obviously it was caused by the landslides on some parts of the river banks. Since it was raining, i couldn’t took any photos of this stretch of the river. There were about 13 longhouses along the Engkari river and the list below are following the order start from the first longhouse on the river mouth until the furthest longhouse.

 Rh Belaun, Ng Stapang
 Rh Siam, Ng Gugu
 Rh Intang, Ng Mengiling
 Rh Sabang, Ng Mengiling Baru
 Rh Buran Ak Mujan, Ng Mengkak
 Rh John, Ng Tutong
 Rh Gugu, Ng Ukom
 Rh David Ujan, Ng Sepaya
 Rh Rosli Pakak, Ng Stamang
 Rh Liam, Rantau Kembayan
 Rh Patrick, Tarum Buai
 Rh Jaung, Lubok Pantu
 Rh Bada, Ng Talong

Picture3 (640x366)

Rh. Bada, Nanga Talong is the furthest longhouse along this Engkari River

Our first day journey was ended at Rh. Bada, Nanga Talong and we overnight there before we continue our journey to the field station the next morning. I was shivering cold because of the heavy rain and quite windy on the boat. Upon our arrival, the Iban community in this longhouse were having an offering ceremony to the spirit of the harvest. The villagers only allowed to begin harvesting after this ceremony is completed. So, we were invited to join and participate in this event. As usual they will having a drinking session just after the offering ceremony completed.

Miring_1

‘Miring’ an offering to the spirit of the harvest

The livelihood of the Iban communities in this longhouse is still depend on the natural resources from the forest and also cultivation of cash crops. They cultivate paddy, pepper, rubber and fruit trees on their land as their source of income or for their daily consumption. The men going into the forests to hunt for a wild meat as their source of protein, while women collecting rattan for making a weaving products such as basket or floor mat. This way of life is quite common and traditionally practice among the longhouse people in Sarawak.

One of the thing that attract me with this particular longhouse is that they living on the boundary of the Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary and they were involved directly with the community development programme manage by the ITTO Project. As a result, i can see they are still manage strictly their “Tagang System” (Tagang means restricted in Iban language). This system is not new to the local communities because it was a native tradition to preserving and protecting fish stocks in their river system. With assistance from the ITTO project they manage to make this system better and in place. Furthermore, the importance of this system is acknowledged by the Forest Department of Sarawak. See article about this on the Borneo Post News – Community service schemes prove successful at wildlife sanctuary.

It was a success but at the same time, the awareness on the cleanliness of the river is not in good practice yet. Obviously, the longhouses and primary schools still dump their domestic waste into this river. Too sad to see this but this is one thing that must be done soon. Keep the river clean!

Picture6 (640x366)

Feeding the tagang fish on our way to the LEWS field station (Photo credit to Belden)

To conclude, it was a great opportunity to be able to expand my horizon into a new area and getting to know the local communities living adjacent to this wildlife sanctuary. I always believe conservation will not success without active participation from the local communities.

Iron_Men_1

The Iron Men of Ulu Engkari – our boatmen

INTRODUCTION: Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary

In February 2016, i start with my new assignment and i was posted to a new town, Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. The first field trip sounds very tough as my friend and i gathered all the possible information from friends which have been there before. Since i am an adventurous person, i get excited but still a bit nervous inside my heart. Two of us were going to one of the field station of the largest wildlife sanctuary in Sarawak, Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary (LEWS) called Nanga Segerak Biological Centre and only can assess from Batang Ai, Lubok Antu, Sri Aman Division.

LEWS_1

The Lanjak Entimau WS location in Sarawak (Credit to Wikipedia)

The total area of this wildlife sanctuary is 182,983 ha comprise of the gazettement in 1983 with an area of 168,758 ha and Extension I gazettement in 2013 with an area of 14,225 ha. Since this is a huge area, it was located within three divisions of this state namely, Sibu, Kapit and Sarikei.

I dream of exploring this wildlife sanctuary since my university days when i first visit Danum Valley Field Centre in 2003. To see the virgin forest for the first time is overwhelming me and i was visualizing that when i finish my study will come back to Sarawak (my own home town) and work in Lanjak Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary. Big dream huh!

However, its only after 13 years i come back to Sarawak and be able to realizing my dream. The question is now, what and how can i contribute? Will i be able to contribute my knowledge, my skills, my experiences and my ideas with the current assignment? Thus, i must get a clear vision and mission of this project so i can give my full contribution and have no doubt about my own ability. After 3 months and a half, i start to doubt of my own capability and slowly my strong determination is degrading. These questions disturb me again; Am i good enough? Am i making a wrong decision? Am i at the right place?

As a person with faith in God, i know no decision is wrong and there is a good reason why i am here now. God did answer my prayer 13 years ago to be able to work in this place. It is now, how can i make it happen and God will continue to guide me to pull it through. Nothing is impossible with God.