A Visual Journey Through Batang Ai
The book Batang Ai – Rainforest, Wildlife and People takes the reader on a visual journey through the remarkable beauty of the greater Batang Ai region in the State of Sarawak, Malaysia. The Batang Ai landscape is one of Sarawak’s most important areas of rainforest as it is the last remaining viable habitat for the Orangutan in Sarawak.
The 150-page coffee table book, edited by Philip Yong and Robert Basiuk, features over 130 images by nature photographer Ch’ien C. Lee. Writers Anthony Sebastian and Mike Reed contributed to the book whilst Natural History Publications were responsible for design.
Batang Ai’s patchwork of primary and secondary rainforest is interwoven with fast flowing rivers and home to a range of wildlife. The region is also home to a number of Iban communities who live on the fringes of the rainforest. This inter-related mix of plants, animals and people is the focus of the book; with chapters covering habitats and plant life, wildlife, the people of Batang Ai, conservation, the development of tourism and visiting Batang Ai.
The book was published by Borneo Adventure and sponsored by two keys stakeholders in development and conservation activities at Batang Ai, namely Sarawak Energy Berhad and the Forest Department Sarawak.
Batang Ai – Rainforest, Wildlife & People is one of many projects at Batang Ai that editors Philip Yong & Robert Basiuk have been involved in since they started working with the communities there 28 years ago. As Mr Yong, managing director of Borneo Adventure, commented,
“Borneo Adventure started working with the people of Nanga Sumpa longhouse in 1987. Together we developed a range of high value tourism activities that provide economic benefits for the people and these benefits have now extended to five other communities. The pristine natural environment at Batang Ai is what attracts foreign visitors.”
He added, “Batang Ai is a special place and this book documents the nature, beauty, attractions and the people of the area.”
In 2013 researchers confirmed the presence of up to 200 Orangutan living outside the boundaries of the Batang Ai National Park. Following this news the Sarawak State government announced that it would protect these forests as part of its Orangutan conservation programme.
The Batang Ai Expedition
As part of the book project, Borneo Adventure arranged a 10-day expedition into the heart of Batang Ai National Park for Tony Sebastian, an ecologist we engaged to write the nature chapters of our book. Daniel Kong, a renowned birdwatcher, accompanied Tony and Borneo Adventure guide Bayang led the trip.
The objective was to reach the headwaters of the Batang Ai and see the untouched heart of the park, which is largely beyond the reach of hunters. Limited time meant that the objective of reaching the headwaters was not reached but the expedition was still a success. After leaving the park HQ the group travelled by longboat for two days before reaching the centre of the park. They then set up a camp to use as a base for conducting wildlife surveys deep inside the park.
The intact habitat was rich in wildlife, with 111 species of birds and 25 mammal species recorded during the trip. Much of the forest eastwards of Nanga Mujan and around the upper reaches of the Ai River was found to be old regrowth. This area was previously farmland until the local Iban abandoned the land, some 70 years ago.
A significant number of orangutans were sighted in this old regrowth forest. 9 orangutans were encountered during the expedition, two with young, making a total of 11 individuals.
If you are interested in arranging an adventure trek or expedition to Batang Ai National Park, drop us an email.
Batang Ai – Rainforest, Wildlife & People is priced at RM 120. For enquiries please call 082-245175 or email email@example.com.
Photos by Daniel Kong