With its charismatic orangutan residents, diverse wildlife, and often unpredictable weather, the Kehje Sewen is indeed a unique environment. There is never a dull moment in the forest, and our PRM team from Nles Mamse Camp must be able to adapt to any circumstance and remain on high alert; for anything can happen in the middle of the forest, as we experienced a few weeks ago.
At around midnight, our sleep was disrupted by a sudden, heavy downpour that hit the southern part of Kehje Sewen. In no time at all, the river behind our camp burst its banks and flooded the surrounding area. The camp’s small jetty could not hold up to the rampaging current, and our motor boat was swept away.
Three of our PRM team members – Luy, Mendan, and Hejeang – had quickly run down the jetty to try and hold the boat, but the rope was no match for the raging water. All three team members jumped into the boat and attempted to start the engine, while water continued to pour in. They worked as fast as they could to scoop out the water as the boat was carried away downstream. Needless to say, they were caught in a very precarious situation.
The severe weather, continuous rainfall, and darkness did not help: The boat started sinking fast, and the team members had to abandon their heroic efforts in order to save themselves. Luckily, they were able swim ashore and head back to camp, where they reunited with their fellow team members who had been trying to save other equipment.
We are very thankful and relieved that Luy, Mendan, Hejeang, and all other PRM team members are safe and well. We continue to face any hardship, and will never give up on saving orangutans!
Text by: PRM team in Nles Mamse Camp, Kehje Sewen Forest