From the moment we were first picked up from the train station, until we left we were looked after by the wonderful staff. Upon arrival at the accommodation centre, we were greeted with a nice comfy bed in a large gender split dorm room. The next day our group were led into the jungle to look for signs of animals and animal poaching, in particular traps which we took the pleasure of destroying. We saw many interesting footprints, critters and stunning scenery along the way. Just be sure to watch for the leeches!
Trek for Conservation in the Rainforest next to Taman Negara
This project is focused on anti-poaching patrols. You will help our team track clues of human activities in the forest to reduce poaching, a very important cause for the Malaysian wildlife. Additionally, you will look for animal tracks. These could be pugmarks or scratch marks from elephants, tigers, sun bears, tapir, gibbons and more.
Support the Batek Forest Tribe People
Also, you will enjoy another aspect of jungle trekking for conservation: foraging and camping with the Batek people. This aboriginal tribe is still very connected to the rainforest. It is an honour to be in the rainforest with some of the few people who have called it their home for centuries…. a unique experience! Furthermore, this is a chance to learn authentic bush and survival skills. So you may be cooking in bamboo and sleeping under a traditional natural shelter, hand-made by the jungle pros. The ‘developed’ world is catching up on the Batek as their forests are being cleared for plantations. So our project is enabling them to gain an income whilst living in the forest: their ancestral home.
Some of the best Limestone Caving
Lastly, Merapoh is famous for wild limestone karsts, probably some of the best in Peninsular Malaysia. You will join a local cave excursion team to explore these many caves. They still have species yet to be documented and named by science.
If you want to go jungle trekking for conservation of the lush rainforest, learn about it, explore it and help preserve its animals, plants and people, then this adventure conservation experience is for you!
PLEASE BE AWARE
Large animals live in these forests, but it is rare to actually see any because they are mostly nocturnal. However you will see many signs of their whereabouts which is exciting in itself!
Pricing for International Volunteers 2018
1 week £370
2 weeks £660
3 weeks £990
4 weeks £1,300
Pricing for Malaysian Volunteers 2018
1 week MYR 1,300
2 weeks MYR 2,275
3 weeks MYR 3,575
4 weeks MYR 4,550
Includes: food, dorm accommodation with shared bathroom, food and cooking facilities, all volunteer activities, travel from bus stop to project house.
Excludes: insurance, visa costs, flight fares, food/activities not included in the project
Price includes 6% GST Government Tax
International prices are calculated and converted from Malaysian Ringgit so are subject to change.
These jungle walks are fascinating and will really allow you to feel like one of the animals in the forest whilst looking out for signs of poachers. If any snares are found, the GPS locations will be recorded and then they will be destroyed. Even old discarded snares continue to catch animals so it is vital that they are removed to prevent any further harm. If you’re keen to develop the skills needed for rainforest conservation, you will also be taught how to use GPS for location recording! Here, you will learn how to log the coordinates of any pug marks, snares, land clearings or road kill found.
Walks are generally 3-5 hours long depending on the group and the route chosen, and are at a slow pace to enable the guides to search for tracks and animal signs. Although the humidity and inevitable encounters with leeches is not for the faint hearted, this is an adventure to remember for a lifetime!
In 2018 we’ll have even more activities, from using SMART for anti-poaching patrols, to earning a tree-climbing certificate. Not to mention learning GIS skills (geographic information system).
There are over 70 limestone caves in the Merapoh region. The caves are fantastic – some even have rivers and waterfalls inside creating the most fantastic scenery. These caves are home to various animals including thousands of swiflets that group together at sunset and can be seen flying around Gua Musang, a nearby town. The Batek people have used these caves for centuries, as can be seen by the many cave drawings that can be found inside.
Local Tribal Village and Orang Asli
The Local ‘Orang Asli’ (Malay for ‘original people’) are from the Batek tribe. They speak their own language – Batek, and most of them still live part of their lives in the rainforest. The Batek people are true nomads and are even classified by some anthropologist as pygmies due to their short stature.
It is not part of the Batek traditions to destroy an area totally and they will move on before all the resources are depleted. They rely on the forest as their ‘supermarket’ and respect it as the home of their ancestors. Originally the Orang Asli used bows and arrows but early this century they converted to blowpipes. Today, they still use 1.5 metre bamboo blowpipes and poisonous darts (dipped in the sap of the Ipoh Tree) to hunt on a daily basis. The survival of the Orang Asli in the rainforest is partly dependent upon the use of limestone caves for shelter.
Volunteers staying for 1 week or more will learn bushcraft skills from the Batek tribe and may get the chance to go camping with the tribe and learn how they live in the jungle! If you come for a minimum of 2 weeks, you will have the opportunity to help teach the Batek children basic English, maths and science through educational activities. These sessions are great fun but serve an important function, as the area has been earmarked for an increase in tourism and without being able to speak English, these tribal people will not be able to benefit from the new industry.
Activities in your Free Time
We asked our past volunteers what they’d like to see more of in our programmes. When they said more activities to do in their free time, we jumped at the chance! Current mini projects include spreading awareness about conservation to local villagers, teaching local children about recycling, and honing leadership skills by briefing new volunteers on the project. If you think of a new idea while at the project, just tell the project manager!
You will be staying at our shared Fuze Ecoteer Flat in the small village of Merapoh. The flat has 3 bedrooms, a kitchen and a great roof top view for watching the stars! Phone reception is available at the accommodation area. 3G internet is available and also a slow wifi connection.
Collect Animal Presence Data on your Treks
The Sungei Yu Forest Reserve forms part of a tiger corridor which connects Taman Negara National Park and the main Titiwangsa Mountain Range. Poaching was high in this area, but thanks to patrols from MYCAT and Fuze Ecoteer, fewer snares and traps have been found since 2014.
However, we still need jungle trekking for conservation, as significant poaching continues in the area. We pass the animal presence data (pugmarks, scratching etc.) to University Science Malaysia for analysis and share with NGOs and researchers. For example, the NGO ‘MEME’ – Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants receives our elephant data. And, the logged information on the Malayan Tiger and Sambar Deer goes to MYCAT.
Protecting the Local Limestone Caves
Many of the caves are earmarked to be cut down and quarried for their lime. An increased presence at the caves is showing the government and local people what potential these caves have for tourism. Most importantly, this promotes a reason for their preservation.
1.What are the requirements to join this program?
Volunteers will need to be able to speak English or Bahasa Malaysia to be able to communicate with the facilitator. The minimum age requirement is 16 without parents and any age accompanied by parents. Volunteers should also have low-medium fitness, a positive attitude and participate in all tasks and walks.
2. Do I need any jungle experience/hiking skills?
No prior experience is necessary as our knowledgable staff will lead the way and teach you everything you need to know. However the hikes are usually up to 3 hours long and conditions may be wet and slippery so a low to medium fitness level is advised.
3.How do I get to Merapoh from Kuala Lumpur?
Take a bus to Meropah from Hentian Putra Bus Terminal Kuala Lumpur. You will need to inform the bus driver that you wish to be dropped off at Merapoh as it is not a major bus stop location.
4.What vaccinations do I need?
Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, typhoid, measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), tetanus-diphtheria. Anti Malaria pills are encouraged to be brought even though cases of Malaria are seldom recorded.
5. How long can I stay in the country for?
Tourist from the following countries will receive a 90 day free tourist visa upon arrival: Albania, Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Canada, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kirgystan, Kuwait, Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon, Lienchestien, Luxembourg, Morocco, Netherland, Norway, Oman, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Romania, St Marino, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Yemen.
6. I have young children, is this program suitable for families?
Families with children (age 15+) can participate. Take note that the jungle walks may be tough as the path could be muddy & damp, slippery during the rainy season and hot and humid all year round.
7. Is there internet access?
There is no internet access on site, however there is a local internet cafe that may be used when required.
8. How long is the typical volunteer working day?
The volunteering activities run from morning until evening with a lunch break in between. Precise timetabling depends on the weather as some activities may be delayed if it rains.
9. I want to do more to help the rainforest! What else can I get involved in?
There is plenty you can do! We have mini projects that we can allocate you to complete in your free time. Whether it’s spreading conservation awareness to local children or honing your leadership skills by briefing and supporting new volunteers, there is plenty for you to get stuck into!