Expedition to collect ants at the Mount Mulu (by Dirk Mezger): Part 3

On 22th March, my adventure of collecting ants in the montane forest begun. I meet my three porters and my guide at 8 am at the National Park headquarters in order to pick up the equipment and soon we all were ready to go. The first part of the trail was easy: on a board walk we could quickly cover the first kilometer, before we hit the trail through the riverine forest. After crossing two rivers which was easy at this time because of the low water level, we reached the very first forest camp, the so called Camp 1.

All forest camps in the Gunung Mulu National Park were created in 1978 as infrastructure for a big expedition by the Royal Geographic Society. Most of these camps are still managed today, some of them have been extended and renovated for the tourist business. Along the trail to the summit, there are three of these forest camps: beside Camp 1 at 250 m altitude, there are Camp 3 at 1340 m and Camp 4 at 1800 m. Camp 1 has been considerably enlarged in the past years and offers today a unique opportunity for all visitors to this National Park to spend a night in the rainforest.

After a short break, we left Camp 1 since we still had a long way to go. The next part was winding through the lowland rain forest with its mighty tree. After a short rest at an abandoned campsite at 500 m altitude we had th climb a steep trail up to the mountain. Unfortunately, there was a heavy downpour during that climb, making the trail slippery and more difficult. But we soon gained some altitude and saw a change in the vegetation with trees were getting lower since we reached the lower montain forest. After some more hours of climbing, we reached Camp 3 at the time of sunset. All of the team arrived safely at the first of our forest camps.

The next morning, we walked from Camp 3 to Camp 4. This was another tough trail. First, we had to go through a very steep section of lower montane forest until we reached the upper montane forest. Many up and downs made that trail quite difficult and we had to transverse some steep gullies. The roar of an upcoming thunderstorm on the last section made this trail even more grueling. But all of us arrived at Camp 4 before the rain set in. The rain soon stopped and we could use the afternoon for the first field work around Camp 4. All were working together, so very soon the pit fall traps were set and we collected the first soil samples which will be later extracted for ants. According to a standard protocol used in ant research projects all around the world, 20 one-square metre samples need to be included into the sampling scheme. The end of the day, we spend on the helipad of Camp 4 and enjoyed the sunset and the beautiful view on the mountains of the Mulu area.

 Doha, Qatar
River crossing
 Welcome to Kuching
Camp 1
Camp 3
New Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Building
Mountain view
Golden Bridge
Upper Montane Forest
ANeT meeting 2009
ANeT meeting 2009
Welcome to Camp 4
ANeT meeting 2009
Mount Mulu Summit
ANeT meeting 2009
The Team
ANeT meeting 2009
Mountains of Mulu
ANeT meeting 2009
Pitfall Trap
ANeT meeting 2009
Sampling Plot
ANeT meeting 2009
ANeT meeting 2009
Stag Beetle
ANeT meeting 2009

Copyright 2019 Dirk Mezger and Martin Pfeiffer