The Langkube Valley lies within the North Buton Nature Reserve (82,000 ha) and represents a vast area of unexplored, lowland rainforest. The region supports an array of different habitats that remain largely unknown to science. Importantly, it is also a stronghold for the critically endangered dwarf buffalo (Anoa). After completing a three day ‘jungle survival’ course and learning about Wallacean wildlife and conservation, volunteers will assist a team of biologists seeking to document the valleys rich biodiversity. Biologists will focus on mammalian, avian, herpetological and amphibian faunal assemblages. Particular attention will be given to records of endangered Sulawesi endemics, such as the Anoa and the Maleo, both rarely sighted but critically important species for local conservation efforts. There exists a high likelihood that new species records for Buton Island will be made given that this expedition will be working in remote and previously unsurveyed forests. Survey techniques will include the use of camera traps, distance and patch occupancy estimates for large mammal species, mist netting for bats, standard search transects for reptiles, spotlight surveys for amphibians, pollard walks for butterflis and point counts for birds. Due to the demanding nature of this expedition, volunteers will be required to live in a basic camp environment and undertake long treks under challenging conditions.
The Wallacea region comprises islands of the central part of the Indonesian archipelago that are separated by deep ocean trenches which prevented them from being joined to the main continental land masses during the lowered sea levels of the Ice Ages. As a result of the long period of isolation, a large number of unique species evolved. The forests of the Wallacea region are one of the least biologically studied areas in the world and one of the most likely places to discover vertebrate species new to science.
Operation Wallacea first started surveying the forests of Buton Island in SE Sulawesi in 1995. In 2004 these surveys resulted in a US$1 million World Bank/GEF grant being obtained to establish an example of best practice conservation management for a lowland forest. This project worked only in the central part of the island and finished in 2008. An assessment of the various quantifiable conservation targets showed that 90%+ of the targets had been achieved and in many cases significantly exceeded. Since that point, Opwall has continued with monitoring the abundance and diversity of key taxa in both the central and northern forests of Buton Island. All the Opwall gathered data on the northern and central forests of Buton is being submitted support an application to fund a REDD+ application to protect the carbon and biodiversity of the Buton forests and ensure that local communities have a financial benefit from this conservation programme. In 2019 survey teams will be completing surveys on the transect network at a series of camps spread across central and northern Buton. Most of these survey sites have been monitored in previous years and will provide annual data to assess changes in the biodiversity over time. The rapid assessment mobile team in the northwest corner of Buton will be completing biodiversity surveys in these forests building upon primary research conducted in 2016 and they are the first ever surveys in this area.
In the tropical rainforests of Indonesia is is generally warm during the day (around 25 degrees Celsius), and humid, with up to 80% humidity. At night the temperatures drop lower, but not usually lower than around 15 degrees Celsius. It rains very frequently, and very heavily at times, but for short periods.
Fitness level required
Medium – High. You will need to hike for long periods, over steep and muddy terrain, at times with your large rucksack.
Facilities in the camps are very basic (hammocks, river showers, basic trench toilets). There is no cell phone signal or internet access in any of the camps.