UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
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I'M AN ORIGINAL CATCHPHRASE
In 1955, four Oxford students set out from their University to explore the depths of the Usun Apau
plateau, a volcanic island raised above the thick forest that lay below. They spent six months
in the jungle, being resupplied by RAF air drops and winding their way up a network
of rivers, aided by the local nomadic communities that once inhabited the area. They were
greeted by a landscape of extreme beauty, a dense ecosystem characterised by a forest canopy
that differed greatly from the one they expected. The tall trees that once shaded them below
the plateau had been replaced by a lower lying array of impenetrable forest, making their journey
across the area much harder.
64 years later and the plateau has been gazetted as a National park, three of the four original
explorers are still alive, and an opportunity has arisen to revisit their experiences and the
landscape they ventured to. It still remains one of the hardest parts of the Sarawak jungle to
access, with very few people carrying out research into the species that may live there. More recently,
the park has been threatened by the encroachment of logging and palm oil companies, with
Google Earth providing a clear viewing of industry slowly eating away at the surrounding jungle.
If this continues, the plateau will be cut off from the rest of the jungle, removing any kind of
interactions species there may have with ecosystem below.
Through travelling back to the plateau, exploring the history of those that went before us and collaborating with local institutions such as the The WWF and the University of Nottingham in Malaysia we hope to carry out research into the plateaus ecosystem in the hopes of providing a strong argument for its importance in conservation.
A current Biology student, Rosie is the science behind the expedition. Being a keen SCUBA diver, Treasurer of the Exploration Club and a climbing fan, she's been focused on conservation from an early age and loves any form of adventure. Her experience includes diving off the coast of Mozambique to assess nudibranch diversity, manatee surveys in Cuba and recently spent her summer studying the genetics underlying insect cognition in pollinator species. Through this trip she hopes to encourage more student-led expeditions and conservation studies.
Maryam is a first year biologist in Oxford University, with a particular interest in zoology and animal behaviour. She is highly adventurous with a strong interest in solo travelling. Born and raised in Malaysia, Maryam loves being outdoors and wishes to work in the conservation field in the future. She had prior experience in green and humpback turtle conservation - doing tasks such as tagging and population monitoring, in-situ conservation and relocation of turtle eggs, as well as collecting scientific data on nesting behaviours at Terengganu, Malaysia. Through this expedition she hopes to help increase awareness on the importance of conservation especially to the local population.
Studying Geography, Matt is the leader of the expedition. Mountain biker, climber, photographer and map enthusiast Matt spends most of his time on a hill. He has experience leading expeditions to Norway and has solo travelled across Europe and Asia. His passion for conservation surrounds the a new understanding of nature, having worked with the National trust in the past on projects based in the Lake District, he aims to develop a practical multi-natural approach to his work. President of the University Exploration Club, he is always looking for an adventure.
Azam is a postgraduate student studying remote sensing and sediment concentration in rivers. He is passionate with people and nature, raised in Sarawak exploring the forest and integrating with the various ethnic groups. He loves to explore the jungle to learn survival skills and record the diverse array of flora and fauna. He represented the Malaysian Youth to advocate Climate Change action in the United Nations 23rd Conference of Parties in Bonn Germany. Regularly conducts motivational talks and educational talks in schools in Sarawak as an invited speaker and is a firm believer of youth empowerment through knowledge.
An environmental science graduate from the University of Nottingham, Pouvalen discovered his passion for wildlife conservation while volunteering at the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation. Since then, he has been involved with the Gibbons Protection Society of Malaysia, and the Langur Project Penang studying primate behaviour and WWF India investigating red panda habitat in Himalayan villages. He is keen about conservation landscape planning and in the future, wants to investigate the issues which slow down progress in conservation initiatives and employ the principles of conservation psychology to address them.