Malaysia is blessed with a high biodiversity of wildlife. Unfortunately, many of its most emblematic animals are under severe threat.
You will help protect Malaysia’s most amazing animals by going on jungle patrols on the borders of Malaysia's largest national park, Taman Negara. The borders are where poaching numbers are highest due to the small strip of forest left connecting the wild animals living in Taman Negara to the rest of the wild animals living in Malaysia.
Through the treks, you will collect valuable footprint data of various jungle animals and also help to dismantle any snares found. A primary goal of the program is to educate the local community on the importance of animal conservation.
- Help identify animal tracks and locate potential spots of animal snares
- Enjoy an overnight camping trip with the indigenous tribe
- Reduce the chances of animals getting trapped
- Help conserve caves in Merapoh by going caving
What to Expect
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!
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.
Our volunteers and interns have plenty of scheduled activities to keep them busy! Such as English classes in the local village, exciting games of football with the Batek children, trips to the night market to sample yummy local Malay food, night drives to learn more about nocturnal organisms, and lastly a weekly conservation class.
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!
Housing & Meals
Merapoh is a small town in Pahang, Malaysia and hosts an alternate entrance to the Teman Negara rainforest, which is the world’s oldest tropical rainforest.
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. There is also a free-to-use internet centre a few minutes walk from the accommodation.
Breakfast tends to be simple; for instance bread, banana cake, coffee, tea, peanut butter, jam. Volunteers are welcome to venture out to some of the delicious local restaurants to try traditional Malay dishes – for instance Roti Canai is a popular and yummy Malaysian breakfast dish.
Lunch is usually had at the house. Feel free to use our weekly shopping supplies to create a tasty meal for yourself. Or if we are going trekking, a yummy packed lunch is prepared by a local restaurant. Options include Nasi Lemak, Nasi Sayur, Nasi Ayam, or Roti Telur and Roti Canai for vegetarians.
Volunteers take turns to prepare dinner once a week and all pitch in to clear up afterwards. Our volunteers come from around the world, so this is a great opportunities to sample cuisine from different countries and eat all together. For a true taste of Malaysian cooking we also host a weekly Malay meal; a truly unique experience to learn more about the Malaysian culture.
Lastly interns and volunteers will be able to go to the local night market once or twice a week to sample more local delicacies. Night markets are an essential part of the Malaysian food culture and thus an essential part of understanding what Malaysia is all about.
Staying in the communal accommodation means everyone has to join in with the cleaning and cooking schedule to keep the accommodation nice and tidy…and filled with yummy food!
Since the Merapoh Rainforest Station has been running we have…
Trekked over 1,000km, 2 to 4 times weekly
Discovered & deactivated More than 200 snares
GPS’ed more than 800 animal signs
Funded the building of a bamboo learning centre in the Batek village
Provided a stable source of income for the Batek via guided tours, promoting handicrafts to tourists etc
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, the project is successfully deterring poachers. However, jungle trekking for conservation is still needed, as significant poaching continues in the area.
The Merapoh Rainforest Station hope to continue to form valuable alliances with other organisations. We will keep providing valuable animal presence data (pugmarks, scratching etc.) to the University Science Malaysia for analysis, and to share with NGOs and researchers so all of us can continue working to reach our common goal.