The ROM Biodiversity "Borneo" team has landed in Sarawak, and have been spending the last several days organizing equipement, permits and buying machetes. Our second Blog Post speaks of where exactly in Borneo the Team is working. Remember - you can virtually meet the Team on May 24th Friday Night Live, for a special edition of Curators Corner - live from the field in Borneo.
At the end of our last blog entry we alluded to our destination - a biodiversity hotspot in the heart of Borneo, the third largest island in the world (behind only Greenland and Papua New Guinea). Borneo also represents the world's oldest tropical rainforest, one of the most mysterious and biologically rich places on the planet. Three countries constitute the island, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei.
As seen in the map above, there is a great spine of mountain peaks and valleys running through Borneo's centre. For biologists and explorers these mountains are especially unique places. From mountain base to mountain peak the conditions for life change: biodiversity at the bottom is very different than the top.
This year's ROM Borneo expedition is travelling to Gunung Mulu National Park (pictured above) where the team will explore the diversity of life along a 24 kilometre, 2,376 meter high transect to the summit of Mount Mulu. The importance and beauty of the park's forests, caves and mountains has earned it status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This designation underscores the need to understand, protect and share the area. Working with local and international partners the ROM plays an important role in this regard.
One of the first challenges for the ROM team is access. Gunung Mulu National Park is remote, and is typically visited only by small airplane. We will be travelling in a more traditional way: along river waterways from the coastal town of Miri on the South China Sea. Once in the park our mountain ascent will proceed entirely by foot as we work towards the summit, stopping only to camp and explore.
After much preparation the team is only days away from entering Gunung Mulu. Stay tuned for updates, stories and photographs from the field!
From the Heart of Borneo, your ROM BIodiversity Team:
Chris Darling, Senior Curator, Entomology
Jean-Marc Moncalvo, Senior Curator, Mycology
Burton Lim, Assistant Curator, Mammalogy
Brad Hubley, Technician, Entomology
Simona Margaritescu, Technician, Mycology
Tom, Graduate student, Mammalogy
Joshua J. See, Environmental Visual Communication