Blogger: Niki Williamson, Fenland farmland bird recover officer at Ouse Washes.
The final blog in the series of rainforest stories inspiring people around the Together for Trees campaign comes from Borneo. To date Together for Trees bucket collections have raised £ 52,000 nationally, the East have relieved £9,990.43 so far. A HUGE thank you to staff who have taken part in collections, telemarketing and wonderful rainforest blogging.
I saw it just a few weeks after returning from Danum Valley Forest Reserve in Borneo, and felt instant recognition for the incredible world crammed full of weird and wonderful plants and critters. After all, you could argue it’s really only an accident of evolution that our animals have four legs instead of six and we are not all twelve foot tall and blue.
A primary forest is certainly an inspirational place to be. But it’s more than just the assault on the eyeballs of the plant diversity, or the constant cacophony of insect and bird noise.
The atmosphere is literally alive with things eating each other and mating with each other and striving to live. My husband’s no tree-hugger, but even he commented that such unfathomable intensity of life seemed to cause tangible electricity in the air, making the hairs on your neck stand up despite the stifling heat.
Equatorial forests receive so much of the sun’s energy and create so many niches for life it’s almost like you can feel things evolving around you.
And at the top of this teetering pyramid of insane chance existences – Borneo’s unique primates. Not twelve foot tall and blue, but just as spectacular:
The Orang Utan, the sombre old man of the forest, now only found on Borneo and Sumatra - melancholy, wise, and capable of ripping a human in half with its bare hands. This one threw sticks at us, and who can blame it.
The endemic Bornean White-bearded Gibbon - inquisitive, mischievous, and fast as hell. Their crazy, flailing limbs have specially adapted joints that allow them to fling themselves through the canopy at 35 miles an hour, often spanning 15m gaps with a single swinging leap.
And who could ignore the outrageous mangrove-dwelling Proboscis Monkey, the world’s weirdest primate - loud, tetchy, and flamboyant with a cartoon nose that turns red in anger. You couldn’t make ‘em up.
Imaginative as the forests of Pandora may be, in the end nothing rivals the forests of Earth for their richness and preciousness. James Cameron took 15 years to create his forests. Ours took countless millions of years and are completely irreplaceable.