Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Freelance Naturalist

I've been a professional naturalist before- taking kids and adults hiking and teaching them about their surroundings.

I've even been a freelance writer before and gotten paid to write articles about my travel and adventure expeditions.

Yesterday I scored my first freelance naturalist job. Someone from my school told their husband who runs an environmental consultancy about the environmental education teacher.

She e-mailed me. I called him. He said he needed someone to write up a nature guide/brochure for a trail that's being revamped up in Fraser's Hill, Malaysia.

He asked if I'd be interested. I jumped on it!

Yesterday I rode up to Fraser's Hill and scoped it out. Volunteers have already began some stabilization and erosion control. We tramped through 15 foot high ginger plants, listened to a chorus of frogs and spotted a mountain pit viper curled up in the bark of a tree. Batallions of leeches inch wormed their way towards us as I realized we were in their territory. Jungle pig tracks and scrapings dotted the few flat spaces.

At 600m elevation, Frasier's Hill is in the transition zone bewteen lowland rainforest and montane rainforest (an ecotone). Thus a prime spot for birds and other fauna that might frequent both types of forest (i.e. possibly higher biodiversity than either type of forest on it's own).

The weather was cool and damp, not like KL at all.

I met with the Friend's of Frasier's Hill committee and they were glad to see me working on the project.

I'm getting paid a pretty nice sum of money to do something I love.

Now that's what I call living.

As Skald says (from Joseph Campbell) 'follow your bliss' and the rest falls into place.

So now I have a few things to get in order to go out and research the trail:

1) leech socks
2) write in the rain notebooks
3) waterproof map case
4) local flora and fauna guides
5) fuel bottle for the scooter (no fuel up in them hills)
6) funnel for the fuel bottle

I think I'll be pretty well set.

Now I could rush up there and stress out and finish it up in a day or two... but what would be the fun in that?

Half the fun is in drinking hot coffee in the brisk mountain air while the gibbons sing, drinking well earned royal stout in the evenings after a nice day on the trail... and let us not forget the actual trail mapping, photography and writing up of the 'nature notes' for the trail guide.

So I might as well stretch it out into a week or two huh?

-Matt



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