Fulfilling My Dreams in Borneo

By Tori Bakley, GPOCP Research Assistant
My name is Tori Bakley, and I am a recent graduate from Florida State University and the new volunteer research assistant with GPOCP! I have had a special interest in orangutans and the rainforests of Borneo since I first learned about them on the Animal Planet TV channel when I was 10 years old. Since then, my interest in orangutans and Bornean biodiversity has only grown. Like the wonderful umbrella species they are, my curiosity about orangutans led to me learning about other Bornean species, like slow lorises, gliding frogs, dipterocarp trees, and hornbills. To me, it seemed as though the most enchanting and impressive species resided within the coasts of this giant island, and it has been my goal to come here and see them with my own eyes.
Tori Bakely helping inventory botanical samples in the lab at Cabang Panti Research Station. 
I arrived in Indonesia on January 13th, two days after my 22nd birthday, and have spent the last four months at Cabang Panti Research Station in Gunung Palung National Park. The forests are incredible and I could explore them all day (and some days I do!). I cannot help but acknowledge that I expected there to be a lot more wild spaces and local biodiversity in Borneo than there is outside of the national park. In the small town of Ketapang, where the GPOCP office is located, wildlife is sparse and primarily found in the local city forest and in other protected spaces. Most species have been pushed out of their natural ranges, and even the density of species within the national park is much smaller than it would be if the edges of the park were not so distinct. It starkly points out the importance of protecting the remaining wildlife and forests of Borneo.
An avid bird enthusiast, Tori has an excellent eye and managed to get a beautiful shot of this juvenile Brown Wood Owl (Strix leptogrammica) while out searching for orangutans. 
In Gunung Palung National Park, the trees stretch high into the sky and their branches are commonly adorned with hornbills, gliding lizards, and giant squirrels. Lianas drape across the trails and often provide support while crossing rivers and stepping across pneumatophores in the peat swamp. Mushrooms sprout in the most surprising shapes, colors, and formations, and some even make the forest floor glow in the dark. Every day I see something that I have never seen before.
Tori has enthusiasm for all the creatures in the forest and this photo with her amphibious friend was quite popular on Indonesian social media! Photos credit Tori Bakley.
I have another 7 months left to explore the forests of Gunung Palung and the creatures that dwell within. So far this experience has been a dream and I love that I get to call Borneo home!