From mud volcanoes to monkeys and singing into night skies sparkling with fireflies, a group of Hartpury adventurers had the trip of a lifetime on their study trip to Borneo.
The 36 students, who are studying the BTEC Diploma and Extended Diploma in Animal Management, were given the unique opportunity to see a wide range of indigenous species in their own natural habitat as they delved deep into conservation and culture in this tropical paradise.
On the two-week trip, they experienced a river cruise to see proboscis monkeys and fireflies and took a dip in pouring hot springs and experienced a rainforest walk on Mount Kinabalu.
They also stayed on the island where the television series 'Survivor' was filmed – Pulau Tiga – and had a dip in a mud volcano there before heading out to see the nocturnal wildlife. Some also took advantage of a trip to ‘Snake Island’.
After conquering the world's largest island to island zip wire, the students went snorkelling to explore the wildlife among the coral. They also cooked their own dinner at a floating fish restaurant, went to a zoo and explored an aquarium.
“Borneo was definitely, and always will be, one of the best experiences of my life,” said student, Mollie Courtney.
“The trip helped me discover a lot about myself and others. It was full of such amazing experiences; things I will probably never do again.”
Another student, Polly Sanford Hankinson, said: “I really enjoyed the boat trip to see the native proboscis monkey, visiting the waterfall with the fish that nibbled your fingers and toes, and visiting the crocodile farm as well as their zoo to see how they look after their animals.”
Student, Leah Priday, added: “The trip to Borneo really opened up my eyes to new opportunities. My favourite part was being able to see exotic species living within their natural habitat and these experiences will forever live in my memories.”
On the trip, the students also visited the cultural village 'Monsopiad', which was once the home of a tribe of headhunters. They were able to try out a blow gun and take part in a tribal dance where they had to try not to have their ankles snapped between two poles!
They also visited a crocodile farm where they learned about effective farming of this species and how it can help ensure that wild crocodiles are left alone to thrive, rather than being illegally killed for their skin.
The Borneo field trip was linked to the ecology and conservation unit of the students' course, including topics such as wildlife rehabilitation, animal adaptations, different ecosystems, plant life and cultural differences.
"We were all very sad to say goodbye to the beautiful island of Borneo. The students we took this year were all amazing and really made the most of the study tour," said Animal Management lecturer, Catherine Watkins, who accompanied the students on the trip.
“Experiencing the wildlife and culture of a place like Borneo is a unique opportunity and we all found it educational and inspiring. So many of the students are keen to go back and discover even more about the diversity of this fascinating country.”
Animal Management students at Hartpury experience a range of trips in the UK and beyond as part of their course. They go to become wildlife rangers, animal welfare officers, biodiversity field officers and laboratory and research technicians among many other careers. For more information on Hartpury's courses, go to www.hartpury.ac.uk