Monday, April 11, 2011

Living The Dream

To the MAMMALS, GREAT AND SMALL, who contribute so much to the welfare and happiness of man, another mammal, but receive so little in return, except BLAME, ABUSE, and EXTERMINATION

Who would know bats are such a gentle and amazing creature without touching them by yourself? Who would know bats and swifts can co-exist or share the same environment together without hurting each other although they are from different species and origin? Who would know there will be hundred of species of mammals wandering around in such a small place sharing same habitat and foraging area? Now i know how lucky i was that i managed to learn all this stuff from experts voluntarily helping us to conserve wildlife in our own yard. Not many people out there have the same opportunity as i was and i know my time has come. No traffics. No politics. No civilization. All i have was just an eager spirit to learn and grab all the knowledge as much as i can.
That day, I promised myself that, it will be the greatest journey ever in my career as a wildlife researcher, finding and studying new and old species of mammals particularly, and biodiversity as a general.
What will you feel when you're holding the skin of rats that you peel by yourself for the first time? Honestly, i feel the blood of satisfaction runs through my veins. Initially, it was scary and kinda weird. And guess what?? my wife was 2 months pregnant!. You know what i mean right? in my tribes (Iban) belief, it is prohibited for both husband and wife during pregnancy to peel animals skin (and many more but i will not talk about that here) because it will cause a very bad omen to your born (child) later. It happened before to others. But, i forgot. I really, really have forgotten what my ancestor had told me about bad omens in our tribe perspective.
Days after days i managed to 'adapt' to the new environment and style of working especially under experts. They really helped me a lot to become who i am today. I chew every details of the subject that they had told and explained. The enjoyment of working with them and all the new stuffs i learned overcame all the tiredness of working almost all day and night. During a day, we try to catch diurnal (active during a day) mammals and at night, we catch bats. and imagine how many specimen we had. Hundreds of them waiting to be analyzed and measured. What are the species? You name it!
Catching bats is always challenging to me. Mist nets and harp traps were used and set all over their possible flying pathways. Patient is always the key. During the process of removing them from mist nets was always a memorable one. I've been bitten for countless of time but i never complaint. Finally i managed to master it. There's a technique on how to hold them that makes them calm and not become aggressive and stressful.
Living The Dream
Sometimes there isn't much words to express your feeling toward something that you really want to achieve, finally you manage to get it in style.

Living The Dream is a simple story, or yet called a brief journey of an eager and enthusiast young field researcher follows his dream to become one of the greatest Mammalogist in the history of Borneo world has ever known. :)
In early 2005, I joined my first fieldwork with United States National Museum personnel and experts studying the composition of volant and non-volant mammals in disturbed area in Borneo (Bintulu, Sarawak). God knows how excited I was during that time. But, as a new person in this field (conservation) and with experts working around, can i managed to 'squeeze' in? what if i were a liability to them? what if i did something stupid and ruin this whole trip? I know this is a massive project and it was not just for the study but a long-term collaboration between my company and research partners. Now i'm really nervous.
It took us approximately 2 hours to reach field station and there was a lot of birds we managed to see during that period of time. The combination of limestone forest and riparian forest is absolutely stunning with hundred thousands of swift flew around trying to catch countless insect wandering around near the caves. What an amazing experience!


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