|Iswadi, Herizal, Suhardi, and M resting on the way to the field.|
|Provisions for 5 days|
|Chatting with coffee farmers|
Into the Woods...
|Team leader M describing how the trap works.|
At around 4pm we found a spot to camp so that we could set everything up before dark. Though we camped beside the trail, the guys told me that normally they try to camp off the trail and near a river, since beliau (2) likes to use the trail. They told me that they ask the tiger's permission to camp by the trail when they need to, because "we are under (his) rules here".
The Next Two Days...
|100% waterproof shelter.|
By the end of the third day we were ready to descend back towards the pickup point. We started at about 9am and hiked until about 6pm, by which time I was completely wrecked. Coming down off the mountain involved going straight down the slope, cutting a trail as we went, which was particularly exhausting. But after a long day we finally made it back to a village and hunkered down for the night. It was a great experience and I learned a lot about the park and the challenges it faces as well as the heroic job done by the PHS unit. They are extremely dedicated and committed to their jobs, and they are proud of the work they do. "When poachers see the black coming, they run, because they know there's no negotiation", said one of the PHS members, referring to the fact that they wear black whereas regular forest police wear green. There's a subtle jibe here, and I'll let you figure it out.
I also learned a lot of neat forest tricks from the PHS guys. Despite being hard-core forest dudes, they are some of the nicest folks you could hope to meet, and they took really good care of me. I'd like to say that I'll be out on another patrol soon, but to tell you the truth, I'm not sure if I can handle it.
Lend a Helping Hand...
I was thinking about what I could do as a thank you to the guys for letting me tag along and it occured to me that one piece of equipment they could really use and would very much appreciate is a Leatherman. I checked on Ebay and it looks like I can get the Leatherman Sidekick for about $35 per (3). Since there are 20 team members, I'd need about $800 to buy one for each team member. But I'm still a poor PhD candidate.
So here's the deal. If you'd like to buy a Leatherman Sidekick for the members of the Tiger Protection and Conservation Unit, or if you'd like to make a partial contribution, please contact me at email@example.com. Or if you'd like to buy a Sidekick and send it to my Hawai'i address I can give you the information if you email me. I don't have an NGO or anything like that, so you'll have to trust me with the money. If you look at my blog you can see what I'm all about; I'm not doing this to scam anyone. If I can collect enough money I'll ship the tools to the unit's coordinator. This is a good way for you to make a useful contribution to tiger conservation. Thanks in advance!
So far I'm up to 4 leathermen, which is 20% of my target. Thanks to the generous person that made the first contribution!
Thanks to two more generous folks I'm up to 8 leathermen, 40% of the target. Thanks much!
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE:
Now at 11 leathermen thanks to another donation.
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE:
Just received another donation of two leathermans to bring the total to 13. Only need 7 more....
UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE:
15 Leathermans and counting!
(1) Pondok means "hut" and in this case refers to semi-permanent structures built in upland farms where the farmers stay while they are working their fields. Normally the farmers have a house in town and only stay in the pondok when it is time to plant or harvest, but here in Nilo Dingin the encroaching farmers stay there most of the time.
(2) Beliau is a non-gender specific respectful third-person form of address. In the forest here you say "beliau" rather than "harimau" (tiger) because it is believed that literally saying "tiger" will invite the beast to come. I use "he" in my translations because it is simpler
(3) A reader informed me that Amazon has them cheaper than the original $40 I posted. The $35 includes the sheath but doesn't include shipping. If you get free shipping you can have it sent directly to me.